ACO roundup: Key news from Jan. 27-Feb. 2

Health Affairs issues ACO policy brief

The Daily Briefing editorial team rounds up the top accountable care stories of the week.

  • Health Affairs this week issued a policy brief that examines whether ACOs will accomplish the "dual promises of reducing costs and improving quality of care." The brief dives into the background of ACOs—including their structure and how they will operate—in addition to discussing some of the potential challenges the organizations may face (Berenson et al., Health Affairs policy brief, 1/30).
  • Aetna this week announced that it is launching a care coordination program in Connecticut and New Jersey. The program offers physicians incentives for managing patients' overall health instead of focusing on a single condition. The insurer says more than 400 physicians will participate in the program, which it hopes to expand to other U.S. states this year (Sturdevant, Hartford Courant, 1/30).
  • New Jersey: Hackensack University Medical Center has applied to become a CMS ACO. Pending approval, more than 120 physicians would participate in the hospital's ACO program, which would begin operating on April 1 (Caliendo, NJBIZ, 1/30).
  • In a New York Times opinion piece, Ezekiel Emanuel and Jeffrey Liebman—former health and public policy advisers in the Obama administration—predict that U.S. health insurance companies will be extinct by 2020 and replaced by ACOs. According to Emanuel and Liebman, most insurance companies now "barely function as insurers" because it is "the employer ... that assumes most of the risk of paying for the medical care of employees and their families." They write, "insurance companies will have to find a new business to be in, one that is useful in the new world of coordinated care," if "they don't want to go the way of the dinosaurs" (Daily Briefing, 2/1).

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