LTC groups react to final ACO rule

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Mark Parkinson
Mark Parkinson

Federal regulators have boosted incentives for becoming part of an accountable care organization, drawing a more positive response from long-term care providers.

The final rule on ACOs was released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Thursday. It includes adjustments to the proposed rule, which drew criticism from providers regarding implementation timelines and quality measure reporting. Under the final rule, eligible providers can choose from multiple start dates in 2012 with a “rolling” application process. CMS also reduced the number of quality measures providers are required to report on from 65 measures in five domains to 33 measures in four domains.

CMS also sweetened the deal by increasing the amount of bonuses providers may earn. It now includes incentives to groups of providers that band together to coordinate care for Medicare beneficiaries under the Medicare Shared Savings Program. The newly created Advanced Payment model will give more support to physician-owned and rural providers participating in the Medicare Shared Savings Program.

Provider response to the final rule reflected the desire for long-term care to be part of the ACO vision.

“We certainly want to ensure skilled nursing and post-acute facilities are part of the cost-saving model,” said American Health Care Association President and CEO Mark Parkinson. “We'll be examining the details of the final ACO rule in the coming days and weeks to ensure our sector can play an important role moving forward.”

Avalere Health CEO Dan Mendelson said that the final rule is less cumbersome than the proposed rule. The model will produce savings for healthcare providers, particularly in reduced rehospitalizations, a key goal for many nursing homes.

The Obama administration projects ACOs will save the government up to $940 million between 2012 and 2015.

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