Physicians Skeptical about Earning Shared Savings in ACOs

Physicians are skeptical about the possibility of earning shared savings in accountable care organizations, according to a report by the American Medical News.

The proposed ACO regulations would make it difficult to earn the shared savings bonuses, said David Spahlinger, MD, director of the faculty group practice at the University of Michigan, which successfully participated in the Medicare physician group practice demonstration project, the model for the ACO program. In that program, the university earned $12 million in bonuses while saving Medicare about $36 million.

While the university probably will apply to join the Medicare ACO program next year, Dr. Spahlinger said it would be more difficult to earn money in the ACO program because of obstacles such as reporting of quality measures. He cited the 65 quality measures that would have to be reported, up from the 32 measures in the demonstration.

Advocate Physician Partners, an alliance of 3,800 physicians in the Chicago area, is partnering with BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois on a shared savings program but may not join the Medicare ACO program, said Mark Shields, MD, its senior medical director.

Dr. Shields said the regulations represent a "significant hurdle" for physicians. He pointed to a requirement that 50 percent of physicians become meaningful users of electronic medical records.

Read the American Medical News report on ACOs.

Read more coverage on skepticism about ACOs.

-Former HHS Official Says ACOs Are a Joke

-Should Specialists Join ACOs?

-House Subcommittee to Hold Hearing on ACOs

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