CMS Expects to Issue ACO Rules by Mid-January 20

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Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services officials announced they expect to issue proposed regulations for accountable care organizations (ACO) by mid-January 2011, and also revealed Medicare beneficiaries will be informed when they are assigned to an ACO.

On December 3, 2010, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) officials announced they expect to issue proposed regulations for accountable care organizations (ACOs) under the Shared Savings Program established by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by mid-January 2011 (PPACA). They also revealed Medicare beneficiaries will be informed when assigned to an ACO. The announcements came just 48 hours after the release of the White House Fiscal Commission’s Debt Report urging CMS to aggressively pursue implementation of ACOs and other payment reform models.

Head of CMS, Donald Berwick, and Jonathon Blum, deputy administrator of CMS and director of Medicare, made the announcements while speaking on a panel during the annual policy conference of the National Committee for Quality Assurance. Berwick and Blum emphasized ACOs participating in the Shared Savings Program must be run with genuine commitment to achieving the underlying goal of the PPACA: a true change in health care delivery. Blum said CMS disfavors ACOs signing on to the Shared Savings Program “to simply roll the dice and to try to earn shared savings.”

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