CMS released the long awaited proposed Accountable Care Organization regulations on April 7, 2011. Foreshadowed in last year’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the change in how CMS reimburses providers based on the concept of sharing savings generated from improved efficiency while meeting quality standards is expected to drive transformation of the healthcare delivery system. There were rumors that the regulations would be over 1,000 pages long but actually weighed in at just over 400 pages. There will be much review and analysis over the next few weeks. The comment period lasts for 60 days and the final regulations are expected in the fall. However, that is a tight timeline for the proposed first round of ACOs to begin operation in 2012. It will be very interesting to see how things play out. These regulations will potentially drive a new business model for how healthcare is organized and delivered.
I have found the following to be useful resources for commentary and analysis of the regulations:
- Health Business Blog: summary of the healthcare wonk commentary since the release of the regulations.
- Beckers Hospital Review: reader’s digest summary of 50 key points.
- Kaiser Health News: credible resource with several fact sheets.
- MedeAnalytics Resource Center: an IT focused vendor with some good commentary mixed with sales materials.
- Launching ACOs: Berwick’s comments.
- ACO: A Three Year Loss?: recognize that developing an ACO is like starting up a new business, it may be awhile before it is profitable.