The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued its long-anticipated proposed regulations for accountable care organizations. Focused on coordinating care for Medicare beneficiaries, the proposed rules aim to create an integrated healthcare delivery system that provides seamless care in a wide range of settings, and links payments to providers to quality and financial outcomes.
Accountable care organizations (ACOs) are a major component of the Affordable Care Act. Under the ACO model – set to launch on January 1, 2012 – doctors, nurses, healthcare facilities and suppliers and would voluntarily work together to provide care for groups of 5,000 Medicare beneficiaries. Emphasis will be placed on primary care, and ACOs that meet quality standards and achieve cost savings will share in program savings.
In the program’s first year, ACOs would be measured on 65 quality standards in five areas:
- Patient/caregiver care experiences
- Care coordination
- Patient safety
- Preventive health
- At-Risk population/frail elderly health
In presenting the draft plan on March 31, HHS officials stressed that will not limit patient choices. They stated that cost savings will arise from “getting beneficiaries the right care at the right time,” resulting in fewer emergency room visits as well earlier detection and treatment of health conditions.
In anticipation of the ACO rules, Somnia defined an ACO model of aligned accountability – the Accountable Anesthesia Organization™ (AAO) – designed to support ACO goals. An AAO is a transparent, collaborative partner in the delivery of high-quality, cost-effective anesthesia care. Its structure reflects the fact that anesthesia is an integral part of healthcare delivery in both in-patient and ambulatory settings. Somnia believes anesthesia providers should have accountability for both quality of care and cost efficiencies in anesthesia within the larger ACO.
HHS will accept public comments on the proposed rules until June 6.