ACOsConsumers & PatientsFuture of Health CareValue-Based Health Care
August 24, 2021

Cost Savings Aren’t the Only Objective for ACOs: Growth Matters, Too

Keeping within expenditure limits is a top priority for most ACOs for Medicare. That makes sense. Savings are the main distinguishing feature of an ACO arrangement, as opposed to straight Fee-for-Service reimbursement. ACOs that accept downside risk can’t afford to exceed the expenditure target. It’s in their best interest to create initiatives to cut costs and control expenses—especially for services outside the ACO, such as post-acute care. But a cost strategy only focused on trimming expenses will likely fail the ACO in the long run. Why? Medicare ACOs face an annually decreasing expenditure limit that mandates them to lower costs…
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ACOsFuture of Health CareRiskValue-Based Health Care
August 19, 2021

New ACO Playbook: Three Ultimate ACO Strategies to Keep Physician Practices Onboard

ACOs have zealously protected their favored status under Medicare Value-Based payment models, ensuring enough time for organizations to feel comfortable with financial risk and make investments in infrastructure. But if your own ACO is losing physicians to new equity-financed networks or to hospitals consolidating practices, more time does not help you. Primary care physicians are being picked off by your competition, and their patients go with them. Private equity firms and venture capital-funded groups have gained significant ground in acquiring physician practices, with mergers and acquisitions hitting record highs in 2019 and 2020, and accelerating in 2021. Equity firms and…
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ACOsConsumers & PatientsFuture of Health CareValue-Based Health Care
July 29, 2021

Five Important Health Care Trends that Consumers Should Track

In the world of health care, change is never-ending. Politics, government regulation, scientific advancement, technology, and the economics and financing of health care foster shifts to reshape how care is delivered and how much it costs. Many of these shifts are completely invisible to us as health care consumers. But they also drive what is happening to and around us, determining availability and affordability of physicians or other services. This came home to me last month when we had friends over for dinner, and the conversation turned to our work. I mentioned Accountable Care Organizations and got blank stares. The…
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ACOsFuture of Health CareValue-Based Health Care
May 13, 2021

New ACO Playbook: Three Touchstones for ACO Viability

Some believe that an ACO’s leadership structure predicts its success. They point to differing savings results for physician-led versus hospital-led ACO shared savings models (MSSPs) to make their case. In particular, they make the argument that future Value-Based Care (VBC) policies should benefit the growth of successful physician-led ACOs, protecting them from policies that force them into Risk. There are significant flaws to tying ACO structure to the viability or value of the model, however, or in discrediting ACOs which don’t yet produce those savings but may have other important characteristics for the long term. In a more competitive health…
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ACOsEpisodes of CareFuture of Health CareRiskValue-Based Health Care
April 29, 2021

New ACO Playbook: Can Coordination of Care Save Enough Money to Save ACOs?

Central to the controversy about ACOs’ potential for Value-Based Care is whether they actually save enough money and reduce costs fast enough. Researchers and advocates have produced various independent studies of ACO savings, the most generous estimating $1.8 billion in cumulative savings over the first three years of the program, almost double CMS estimates. Many others, however, dismiss the small proportion of savings—at a few percentage points—relative to total Medicare spending. The previous CMS administration was clearly dubious about the shared savings model. It favored payment models that put providers at financial risk to increase cost reduction incentives, even though…
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ACOsDirect ContractingFuture of Health CarePrimary Care PracticesValue-Based Health Care
March 18, 2021

With Competing Payment Models on Hold, What’s the Future for ACOs?

When CMS first announced new primary care payment models in April 2019, ACOs understood that their future might be threatened by competition for both physicians and patients. If medical groups could independently contract with Medicare under these models, they would have the advantage of greater control over their physician network, referral arrangements, and clinical decisions. The Value-Based primary care models of Direct Contracting (DC) and Primary Care First (PCF) were presented as a strategy to fortify primary care and independent practitioners. By combining prospective payment, quality monitoring, and incentive pools for lowering admissions and total costs, providers could potentially reap…
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COVID-19Future of Health CareRacial Inequities in Health CareWomen and Health Care
January 25, 2021

Why Health Equity Will Be Measured in Value-Based Health Care

After the first wave of COVID-19 case numbers and deaths in Spring 2020, it was Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago who broke the story of how the virus was distinctly ravaging Black and brown communities with higher hospitalizations and deaths. In Chicago, alone, Black residents were dying from COVID-19 at six times the rate of other Chicagoans. While the virus has been unsparing across the board, there is a tragic trifecta—people who are older, or of color, with serious underlying conditions, are dying in greater numbers, with a disproportionate percentage of deaths afflicting underrepresented groups. COVID-19 is not unique in…
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ACOsFuture of Health CareMerit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS)RiskValue-Based Health Care
December 9, 2020

7 New Value-Based Health Care Directions You’ll See in 2021

Everyone who's reeling from 2020 is hoping for light in 2021. Health care, especially—systems, hospitals, clinical practices and their providers—wants the pain to stop. What might lie ahead for health care next year? Here's what we're thinking about the near future, and what you should watch for in 2021. 1. Health care providers will be fortified. If one thing is clear from the election results, it's that relief is coming to help providers on the pandemic’s front line. Money won't be free-flowing, but it will be targeted to areas of financial distress. We should expect initiatives to centralize purchasing and…
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Episodes of CareFuture of Health CareRiskValue-Based Health Care
July 20, 2020

Episodes Are More Than Payment Models: They’re Key to Improving Care

For many health systems and groups, episodes are esoteric. Providers often think of them only in context of risk-based payment models like bundled payments and capitation. Navigating Value-Based Health Care contracts, providers analyze and model performance under Fee-for-Service and episode-based payments to decide their course of action. Or, if already in Value-Based reimbursement, they use them as targets for costs to pinpoint physicians who exceed the targets. These strategies are shortsighted and limited. Even at best, they do nothing to address what is actually driving cost of care. By using payer-constructed episode specifications, such strategies potentially obscure valuable clinical and…
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Future of Health CarePopulation HealthRacial Inequities in Health CareValue-Based Health Care
July 1, 2020

How to Start Redressing Racial Bias and Reducing Health Care Inequities

In recent weeks there have been many cries for the health care system to finally address racial inequities. Now is the moment to harness that energy toward a process of substantive change. Value-Based Health Care is not achievable without addressing racial inequities that drive costs and poor outcomes: patient disengagement, higher risk factors, greater admissions, and emergency room usage. Fully acknowledging the issues is the first step. Creating better methods to evaluate how race affects decisions and to innovate change is the next. Racial inequities in health care in the U.S. are well documented, including: Higher maternal mortality, with Black…
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