In an effort to control medical costs and better coordinate health care for Medicare beneficiaries, the federal government on Monday announced 89 "accountable care organizations" across the U.S., including two in Connecticut.
Private health insurers have already established these systems in some cities and states, establishing a sort of case management plan for patients that comes with financial incentives for doctors. Doctors that can reduce expenses overall and improve patient care are provided financial incentives. The idea is to shift from a fee-for-service model of medicine to one that puts a clinician in charge of managing a patient's overall health.
"Better coordinated care is good for patients and it saves money," said U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "We applaud every one of these doctors, hospitals, health centers and others for working together to ensure millions of people with Medicare get better, more patient-centered, coordinated care."
In Connecticut, MPS (Medical Professional Services) ACO Physicians LLC in Middletown will take part with its 38 doctors and PriMed LLC of Shelton with its 116 doctors. In Middletown, federal officials gave a preliminary figure of 6,525 Medicare beneficiaries who will be assigned to the Medical Professional Services accountable care organization, said MPS executive director Douglas S. Arnold. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services were not able to say how many Medicare beneficiaries the Shelton group will oversee, though each is required to coordinate care for at least 5,000.
The program is expected to save the federal government, which is to say taxpayers, some $940 million over four years. The 89 accountable care organizations announced Monday brings the total number of Medicare-sponsored programs to 154 since the first such programs were announced in January 2011. As of July 1, more than 2.4 million Medicare beneficiaries have their care coordinated through a federal accountable-care organization or a similar initiative to reduce health-care spending.