HHS Sec. Sebelius: CMS Reviewing ACO Comments

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At the second annual National Accountable Care Organization Summit held in Washington D.C., HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius delivered a speech on the importance of ACOs in reforming the way healthcare is delivered.

Sec. Sebelius noted the emergence of ACOs comes at a time when healthcare costs threaten the long-term sustainability of healthcare programs, such as Medicare. Although the Affordable Care Act could add an estimated eight years to the federal healthcare program's life span, "it is still on pace to become insolvent in 2024," she said.

Meanwhile, there is an increased urgency in improving healthcare quality, which is a crucial step in containing healthcare costs. Sec. Sebelius points to numerous healthcare providers around the country who have already reduced patient harm by implementing varying policies and protocols. However, Sec. Sebelius also noted the current healthcare system financially punishes healthcare providers who are innovators in improving patients' long-term health.

The convergence of these factors makes ACOs an important tool to not only help patients improve their health but also help healthcare provides share in some of the cost-savings. The push for electronic health records and the creation of Pioneer Accountable Care Organization program help facilitate a better understanding of ACOs.

Currently, HHS is sifting through more than 1,200 comments submitted by stakeholders in the healthcare industry on HHS' recently released proposed rules for ACOs. Sec. Sebelius emphasized the goal of the review process is to find a balance among the needs of patients, healthcare providers and payors, among other entities, while also improving costs and healthcare quality.

In her closing remarks, Sec. Sebelius emphasized the need for leadership that is committed to the hard work that is necessary to make ACOs a successful venture for all involved.

Read Sec. Sebelius' full speech on ACOs.

Related Articles on ACOs:
Boards and Physician Leaders Share Concern About ACO Journey
Majority of Senior Hospital Executives Uncertain of ACO Participation
California's John Muir Health Expected to Launch ACO in July 2012

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