ACOs must focus on delivery form, hospital association says

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The American Hospital Association recently stressed the importance of delivery reform when it comes to implementing accountable care organizations under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

ACOs, which the healthcare reform law introduced, are groups of providers that collaborate to lower the cost of care and improve the quality of care. Their ultimate goal is to improve patient outcomes at the lowest cost possible in specific populations, and could involve nursing homes, short-term rehab facilities and hospitals. ACOs will not take effect until 2012 under the healthcare law.

In a letter last week to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, AHA warned that ACOs must focus on delivery reform and refrain from concentrating on generating Medicare savings. The letter also stressed that the ACO program should be "treated as a pilot initially so that mid-course corrections can be implemented to reflect what is learned." To another point, AHA urged CMS to "explore opportunities to extend similar arrangements to rural providers who are interested in adopting delivery reforms."    

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