Health reform implementation

Providers say ACO savings estimates are too high

{mosads}Providers, including doctors and hospitals, have registered strong complaints with ACO regulations recently released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. They say the rules are too stringent and will discourage providers from participating in ACOs.

“Including the $510 million median figure in updated budget projections would severely handicap the ability of CMS to consider and implement changes to the proposed rule that would create a viable ACO program,” AMGA said in a letter Thursday.

Richard Foster, the chief actuary for CMS, suggested recently that the White House budget office shaped the proposed ACO regulations to garner the highest possible savings estimates. The cost-cutting emphasis trumped policy experts’ efforts to make the new program attractive to providers, he said.

Even some large clinics that are structured similarly to ACOs, such as the Mayo Clinic, have said they might not take part in the new program if major changes aren’t made to the proposed regulations.

In order to give healthcare providers an incentive to take part in ACOs, the healthcare law says that any savings to Medicare should be split between the government and ACO members. But if the bar to forming one of the new entities is too high, those savings might not come to fruition.

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