ACOs, bundled payment groups 'becoming the face of American medicine,' Sebelius says

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Accountable care organizations and bundled payment initiatives are harbingers of the future healthcare system in the United States, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a speech on Tuesday. Sebelius addressed the American Medical Association National Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C.

“These transformational models are no longer isolated pilots,” Sebelius said. “They are becoming the face of American medicine.”

More than 250 providers have partnered to form ACOs, which together will serve more than 4 million Medicare beneficiaries, Sebelius noted. She also highlighted the recent announcement that more than 500 healthcare organizations will take part in a bundled payment initiative. The initiative is designed to test whether bundled payment improves coordination among multiple providers involved in a single episode of care. More than 165 long-term care operators are participating.

Acknowledging that care providers are strained by the changes introduced by the Affordable Care Act and other measures, Sebelius pledged to continue seeking ways to “slash red tape.” As an example of this effort, she brought up a reform proposal rule introduced last week. One of its provisions allows certain nursing homes to delay installation of an automated sprinkler system.

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