"Really, I probably live in a world of 140 codes.” AAFP President Robert Wergin, M.D.…
More ACO BS by Pat Conrad MD
The newest exciting chapter in the ACO saga is a proposed “Next Generation ACO” developed by the CMS Innovation Center (CMMI). Of course Marvel Studios couldn’t make ACO’s interesting, and the CMMI has got to win most oxymoronically titled institution of the decade.
In the lead paragraph, the authors state, ” Providers will have complete autonomy in how they manage the health of their population” and then, ” The payer will pre-define the ACO’s population and its spending benchmark.” Satisfactorily explain that juxtaposition to me, and I’ll name you the new head of the CMMI.
This article states that the flaws of the original ACO’s were:
- They only shared in 50% of the profit, and amount waaayyyy to low to fund new structures and physician incentives (think an administrator actually said that?)
- Physicians didn’t know until year’s end which patients they were financially responsible for, making it tough to effectively target the rationing, uh, “care management interventions.”
- Patients had no financial incentive to remain in ACO networks.
The authors (one of whom worked in the White House, the other two work for a company selling this crap) fawningly describe the Next Gen ACO structure as “progressive”, and built upon feedback from the old Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP). This sentence, “Next Gen ACOs should have access to the full toolkit of benefit- and network-design strategies found in Medicare Advantage and other provider-led offerings” is so unbelievable as to be vomit inducing. What “toolkit”? What design “strategies”? ACO’s – meaning CMS, meaning the government – are still going to designate what the savings will be, what the expenditure and quality benchmarks will be, and will still dampen any potential savings to the doc (less the administrator’s cut, of course) with gobs of gooey, toxic Medicare regulations. And in the Next Gen risk adjustment, financial targets may be adjusted by up to 3% if the population’s risk status increases. What if the financial exposure increases 5%, or 10%, who eats the difference? And if the population’s risk status decreases, will the bonuses increase? Does anyone smell a conflict of interest there?
Why do ACO’s even exist? To save money! Why is that a goal? Because Medicare LOSES MONEY. It always has, and it always will.
CMS wants the pressure on, and is giving would-be ACO participants till Jan 1 to sign up. The cheerleading authors sum up with, “The Next Generation ACO Model may come to be seen as the cornerstone of CMS’s efforts to shift the majority of its payments towards value-based care. For health systems it represents an opportunity to secure provider-friendly deal terms and help define their own destiny in a rapidly-evolving Medicare payment landscape.” Until they lose more money, and change the rules again, which is the only certainty in this big lie.Tweet