Feds hint that looming ACO regs could take more expansive approach

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Federal officials are hinting that accountable care organization testing models may have a broader scope than previous reports have indicated. The imminent regulations could be out within a week.

Previous reports indicated the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services would pilot-test ACO models before putting a sweeping national rollout in place. But more recent comments from Marilyn Tavenner, chief deputy at CMS, suggest the government may embrace both approaches. A CMS spokeswoman declined to comment to McKnight's on the specifics of the plan. During an event in Washington, Tavenner said that there will be still be testing of different ACO models, but they will be done at the same time as the broader rollout. The program is scheduled to be operational by January 1.

ACOs are being created so physicians, hospitals, and other health care providers can collectively manage and coordinate care for Medicare beneficiaries. The CMS Office of the Actuary estimates the new approach will be budget-neutral. But the Congressional Budget Office estimates Medicare spending will decline by nearly $5 billion in the decade following their implementation.

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