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WASHINGTON – The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued its final rules on Medicare Accountable Care Organizations, which bolster the menu of options for providers looking to better coordinate care for patients and aim at making it easier for providers to deliver high quality care and use healthcare dollars more wisely.
[See also: ACO program is asking too much, says expert]
- In the proposed rule ACO requirements were to be aligned with EHR requirements, by stipulating that “50 percent of primary care physicians must be defined as meaningful users by start of second performance year.” The final rule has eased this burden by making it “no longer a condition of participation,” and instead has “retained EHR as a quality measure but weighted higher than any other measure for quality-scoring purposes.”
- The final rule requires 33 measures in four domains, instead of 65 measures in five domains required by the proposed rule.
- The final rule makes the one-sided model truly one-sided. It still offers two tracks for “ACOS at different levels of readiness, with one providing higher sharing rates for ACOS willing to also share in losses.”
- The final rule expands participation to Rural Health Clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers and organizations where specialists provide primary care.
- The final rule provides a more a flexible starting date in 2012.
[See also: ACOs and meaningful use to go hand in hand]