Memphis employers, employees & their families will definitely be affected by the latest trend to hit the healthcare delivery system: Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). The concept is not entirely new but is a new version of an old idea: paying systems of care to be accountable for the health and health care of a group of people.
So why all the buzz? Well, the recently passed Health Reform law requires Medicare to begin to work with these types of systems in 2012. Hospitals, physicians, & health plans are all scrambling to understand what an Accountable Care Organization is and to decide if they want to form one or join one. Right now, there is no official definition for an Accountable Care Organization so different models are being developed and implemented.
Right here in Memphis, Methodist Healthcare has been working on this concept for 18 months and is in the final stages of developing a strategy to get their toes wet in the ACO world. They plan to take a mesaured, incremental approach, working first with their own employee health plan and their Medicare Advantage plan. If successful, they will build on this foundation and begin to work with other employers & health plans. We imagine that other Memphis hospitals will also move in this direction.
The New Health Dialogue blog from New America's Health Policy Program has published a 4-part series to help us all understand ACOs. These blog posts are short and quickly get to the major important issues re: ACOs, so I recommend that you read them.
Click here to read what an ACO is
Click here to read who is forming ACOs.
Click here to read about ACO payment structures.
Click here to read how ACOs are positioned in Health Reform.
See a video "Creating Accountable Care Organizations", a roundtable discussion, from the New England Journal of Medicine.
MBGH is monitoring this new delivery system and payment model on behalf of our members. We will keep you up to date and will also advocate on behalf of employers and your employees and their families to ensure that these new systems support high quality, affordable health care.