My son Tom is a senior at James Madison University in Virginia, and when he was home this summer, we had a few discussions about the Affordable Care Act and a few of the key provisions that interested me the most. I told him the most important provision to his mother and me was the opportunity to keep him on our health insurance plans until he turned twenty-six.
Another provision I felt important to our family was the Medicare Shared Savings Program. Since I am 62 years old and close to retirement, I told him I wanted to learn more about this provision in the law since it will affect me sooner than later. I also reminded him, as an only child, one day he may look out for me, and it is never too early to find out what healthcare I am eligible for the day I do retire and apply for Medicare.
Tucked into Section 3022 of the Affordable Care Act is one of the first healthcare delivery-reform initiatives establishing accountable care organizations (ACOs). Under the Medicare Shared Savings Program, doctors, hospitals and other organizations are encouraged to create ACOs for care delivery to large groups of Medicare patients. Under the law, an ACO will assume responsibility for the beneficiaries’ care—meaning multiple doctors treating a patient will coordinate their care and patient information will always be available at the point of care, not with some other practice.
This part of the legislation provides incentives for improving quality and efficiency to a new category of provider – the accountable care organization. This program, scheduled to begin in January 2012, rewards groups of providers that agree to collaborate to offer more accountable, effective and efficient care with a share of the savings they achieve.
Most of the articles and blogs I have read on the subject indicate many providers have shown interest and activity in the area, but many questions and issues remain unanswered about future methods determining to achieve, assess and reward accountability.
One of the reports that I read provides some useful information on how I, as a patient, will be interacting with ACOs in the future. I live in Virginia and will probably retire in my present home; I am happy to see some activity in Virginia with ACOs, such as the Virginia-based Carillion Clinic and ACOs. What I found out was very interesting, and I am hopeful by the time I do retire, my personal healthcare provider will be part of a northern Virginia ACO.
I would like to hear from all of you who read this blog…do you think when you retire, your healthcare providers will be part of an accountable care organization?