Future of Health CareRiskValue-Based Health Care
March 11, 2020

Value-Based Care Defined: Know the Vocabulary of Health Care Reform

Today, as we confront a viral threat that is challenging our health system, its capacity, and how care is financed, it seems appropriate to review some fundamentals. Health care reform has been speeding down a particular track, changing how health care is covered, paid, delivered, and organized. These reforms may seem to be about health care financing, but will make a future difference in health care access and patient outcomes. Medicare is driving the train with its huge budget and rulemaking capabilities. But insurance companies, in lockstep, are rapidly implementing similar changes. Understanding all those changes is no easy task.…
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ACOsDirect ContractingFuture of Health CareValue-Based Health Care
February 27, 2020

ACO Path to Viability: Direct Contracting May Be the Opportunity

What if your best route to viability was the high-risk path you feared the most, because that failure might destroy you? That's the question Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) have been asking this week—whether to participate in Medicare's new Direct Contracting (DC) initiative. With a shift in payments from Fee for Service (paid per-provider service), to Global Capitation (paid per-beneficiary), DC completely changes the incentives for the health care system. Whether Direct Contracting is a boon or a bust to ACOs depends on their ability to control the costs of patient care long-term—and whether they have the leverage to do so.…
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Future of Health CareRiskValue-Based Health Care
January 22, 2020

Can Hospitals Still Lead Health Care Under Risk?

As the millennium's third decade begins, Risk has taken hold as THE strategy for tackling health care costs. Virtually overnight (in health care years) the industry has moved—albeit not uniformly—to accept Risk. This transition is already beginning to impact hospitals and hospital-based systems, and raises serious questions about the viability of their role as the primary financial engine bankrolling health care operations, reforms and modernization. Just one year ago, the concept of provider risk in Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) was anathema to most participants. Despite initial misgivings, however, most ACOs remained in the system after CMS pushed forward with its…
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ACOsFuture of Health CarePrimary Care PracticesValue-Based Health Care
July 24, 2019

Can ACOs Survive the Complicated New Landscape in Medicare Risk?

What a difference a year makes. In Spring 2018, many Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) pondered a walkout over Medicare plans that included downside risk in ACO financials. Nonetheless, CMS finalized its plans to make provider risk a reality for all ACOs in its Pathways to Success overhaul of the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP). ACOs’ lukewarm reception to the goal of compelled savings, however, was not forgotten. Fast forward to April 2019, when CMS announced five Primary Care Models to propel physician groups to adopt risk-based reimbursement directly—including capitation. Those models are now under fast-paced implementation, with application deadlines approaching.…
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Future of Health CareMedical Decision-MakingPrimary Care PracticesValue-Based Health Care
June 26, 2019

Follow the Pathway to PCP Success In Medicare Direct Contracting

Primary care physicians were sitting on the sidelines as Medicare developed financial risk models in various generations of ACOs. At best, they could only hope to participate in Medicare Advantage and/or join a larger ACO. But potential for financial gain was elusive when the physicians’ success depended on the actions of others to achieve savings. Now Medicare is offering a carrot to large primary care practices with its new Direct Contracting (DC) models, luring them with the possibility of capturing higher and more predictable revenues as well as shared savings. CMS recently announced an initiative to test risk-based reimbursement models…
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ACOsFuture of Health CareValue-Based Health Care
May 8, 2019

How Will New Primary Care Models Affect Providers in VBHC?

Embraced by some provider groups and disparaged by others, CMS’s five new payment models for practices focused on primary care include much to consider. All reflect a key departure of Medicare’s Value-Based Health Care (VBHC) efforts to date: they are direct efforts by Medicare to transition physician practice revenues to risk without the necessity of ACO participation. The primary care models will affect both providers and patients. In this article, we’ll address the provider issues. How patient choice of care and outcomes for patients and patient populations will be affected deserves dedicated scrutiny in a future post. No Surprise that…
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ACOsConsumers & PatientsFuture of Health CareValue-Based Health Care
October 10, 2018

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 CareMedical Decision-MakingValue-Based Health Care
October 3, 2018

Why ACOs Must Build Trust with Providers and Patients to Meet Goals

As ACOs develop approaches to Value-Based Health Care, they are struggling with a key issue: lack of trust. How can providers commit to collective cost reductions that could have potentially negative revenue consequences for themselves individually or on their practices? If they don’t believe that the other players or their ACO are operating in the best interests of all involved, how can they participate in the ACO’s goals? Conversely, how can the ACO create effective leadership and collaboration if physicians are unwilling to commit to making the model succeed? Likewise, ACOs have to work harder to earn patients’ trust. Ask…
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ACOsBundled PaymentsFuture of Health CareSpecialty PhysiciansValue-Based Health Care
September 26, 2018

Five Strategies for Specialists: How to Safely Navigate ACO Arrangements

Amidst the furor over health care access and affordability, most consumers believe that the exceptional quality of America’s health care is due to specialty medicine. But Value-Based Health Care may well dramatically change specialty practice by putting specialists under financial risk arrangements. That’s because the most prestigious and flourishing providers in health care are also the most expensive for ACOs and health plans. That makes them a target for cost control. We have spoken about the need for ACOs to evaluate specialists carefully and ensure that specialists have input into ACO assessments of their cost and quality. Here we address specialists…
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ACOsFuture of Health CarePerformance ImprovementValue-Based Health Care
September 19, 2018

ACOs Under Risk: Select Specialists Based on Collaborative Audit Process

ACOs have tiptoed into developing a physician network based on value. Building a full lineup of primary and specialty physicians to serve their patient population presents a daunting challenge. Even more relevant, until downside financial risk arrangements become mandatory, ACOs have been able to keep their physician networks inclusive; managing cost of care has been a lower priority than maintaining volume of patients or physician relationships. All that is poised to change as ACOs come under downside financial risk. The threat of budgeted expense levels that mandate repayment to Medicare or forfeiture of revenues to health plans will change traditional…
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