Medicare Slowdown at Risk: The Imperative of Fixing ACOs

Today, Fix the Debt, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health, and Dartmouth College released a paper titled Medicare Slowdown at Risk: The Imperative of Fixing ACOs. At an event on Capitol Hill this morning, stakeholders from the Administration, private sector, and the academic community commented on the ideas in front of an audience of Congressional staff, press, and policy experts.

You can read the paper here, and a 2 page summary here. We also previously commented on accountable care organization (ACO) results that were released last September.

The paper represents the culmination of work that began this past September at the Dartmouth Summit on Medicare Reform, a conference that Fix the Debt, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health, and Dartmouth College hosted in Hanover, NH.

This excerpt from the paper summarizes the primary recommendations:

At the event, Dr. James Weinstein, CEO and President of Dartmouth-Hitchhock said that the health care system must transition forward, analogizing it to how automobiles have moved froward from the innovations of Henry Ford and the Model T all the way to Elon Musk with Tesla. Dr. Elliott Fisher, Director of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice agreed, saying that the system unnecessarily "wastes money and kills people" and that getting ACOs right was critical to changing that. Former Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) brought up the topic of whether changes to the current ACO programs would be scoreable, especially relevant with the "doc fix" deadline looming. Weinstein responded that now that we have data on the savings that the ACO programs are producing, it should be more clear to CBO that these programs save money and make it easier for it to estimate savings. Overall, the participants thought that the recommendations made in the paper would put ACOs on stronger footing, ensuring buy-in on the part of providers and beneficiaries alike.

More About the Dartmouth Summit

The daylong Dartmouth Summit brought together a wide array of health care stakeholders, top policy experts, and Congressional staff to discuss ways to reform Medicare, the largest health care program in the federal budget, and to overcome barriers to moving away from fee-for-service payment.

The summit featured working group discussions on possible solutions, which the three host organizations compiled and expanded in a white paper. This paper proposes two significant changes: 1) improve the financial model for ACOs and 2) increase patient engagement to accelerate the development of a better, more affordable health care system for its beneficiaries, taxpayers, and the Medicare Trust Fund.

Read the Paper - Medicare Slowdown at Risk: The Imperative of Fixing ACOs

Read the Op-ed in Modern Healthcare - A Prescription for What's Ailing ACOs