Medicare’s Pioneer ACOs are arguably leading the most important experiment under the Affordable Care Act.
Back in 2011, just before Medicare named the 32 providers who would test new ways to deliver care with better quality and lower costs, Don Berwick, then the leader of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said, “for Medicare, coordinated care represents the most promising path toward financial sustainability and away from alternatives that shift costs onto patients, providers, and private purchasers,” in this New England Journal of Medicine article.
So when Berwick (who is also seriously considering a run for governor of Massachusetts) said last week that he’s advising some Pioneer ACOs in their dispute with CMS about how to measure quality, my ears perked up. Today, he clarified that he’s only spoken to one ACO executive who called to ask for his advice. Berwick points out he can’t, in accordance with federal ethics rules, get involved in direct negotiations.
Berwick says it’s important to “stay on the high road with respect to the purposes here. The idea of ACOs is important and it (quality) is an important component in the whole move toward integrated care. So let’s not throw the baby out here.”
Berwick, who is also busy helping Britian’s National Health Service recover from an “enormous illness”, offers the Pioneer ACOs some guidance.
“As you work through solutions, stay on the high road. And then, try to get to a platform where the discussion is not, will we play or not, but can we work this through at a technical level.” Continue reading