Healthcare reform begins for seniors

July 9, 2012 at 9:58 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 9 (UPI) -- Eighty-nine new Accountable Care Organizations began July 1 serving 1.2 million people with Medicare in 40 states and Washington, U.S. health officials say.

Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said Accountable Care Organizations are formed by groups of doctors and other healthcare providers that have agreed to work together to coordinate care for people with Medicare.

The 89 new organizations entered into agreements with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid, taking responsibility for the quality of care they provide to people with Medicare in return for the opportunity to share in savings realized through high-quality, well-coordinated care, Sebelius said.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid established 33 quality measures relating to care coordination and patient safety.

"Better coordinated care is good for patients and it saves money," Sebelius said in a statement.

Participation in Accountable Care Organizations is voluntary for providers and the Medicare Shared Savings Program, and other initiatives related to Accountable Care Organizations, is made possible by the Affordable Care Act.

The federal savings from this initiative could be as much as $940 million over four years, Sebelius said.

Marilyn Tavenner of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid said "more than 2.4 million beneficiaries are receiving care from providers participating in these important initiatives" since the Medicare Accountable Care Organizations program opened for business in January.

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