Mass to Have 5 of 30 or so Federal ACO Pilots

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Massachusetts will have a dominant presence on Monday in DC when federal officials announce the names of hospitals and physicians selected as Pioneer ACOs.  The 30 or so networks in this pilot will demonstrate how to become an Accountable Care Organization (ACO).  The five Massachusetts groups are expected to be: Partners HealthCare, Steward Health Care, Mount Auburn Hospital and the Mount Auburn Cambridge Independent Physician Practice (MACIPA), the Beth Israel Deaconess Physicians Organization (BIDPO) and Atrius Health (the state's largest independent physicians group).

"The large number of Boston area pilots will keep Massachusetts in the spotlight on national efforts to control health care costs for some time to come," said one administrator who was not authorized to speak.

The "poster boys" for ACOs may not be part of the CMS pilot. Some of the doctors who plan to take part from Massachusetts call this experiment nerve wracking because it is an untested way to lower costs and improve care.  It is an ambitious experiment for the Boston area. Most Medicare beneficiaries will now receive care from a doctor or in a hospital that is operating as an ACO.

CMS defines ACOs as...

"groups of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers, who come together voluntarily to give coordinated high quality care to the Medicare patients they serve. Coordinated care helps ensure that patients, especially the chronically ill, get the right care at the right time, with the goal of avoiding unnecessary duplication of services and preventing medical errors. When an ACO succeeds in both delivering high-quality care and spending health care dollars more wisely, it will share in the savings it achieves for the Medicare program."

This program aired on December 14, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

Martha Bebinger Twitter Reporter
Martha Bebinger covers health care and other general assignments for WBUR.