Pittsburgh-based insurer Highmark Health Services is creating an accountable care network as the next step in an ambitious and nationally watched move into healthcare delivery. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield affiliate likened its model to an accountable care organization, rewarding physicians for efficient and effective patient-centric care and quality outcomes. After a long and tumultuous courtship and regulatory vetting, Highmark acquired West Penn Allegheny Health System last year and has formed Allegheny Health Network to include West Penn along with several other provider acquisitions. This year Highmark acquired Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Jefferson Hills, Pa., and St. Vincent Health System in Erie, Pa. Physicians from six hospitals in the Allegheny Health Network—Allegheny General Hospital and Western Pennsylvania Hospital, both Pittsburgh; Allegheny Valley Hospital, Natrona Heights, Pa.; Canonsburg (Pa.) General Hospital; Forbes Regional Hospital, Monroeville, Pa.; and Jefferson Regional—will initially participate in the alliance, which will eventually include other Western Pennsylvania physicians and hospitals served by the insurer. St. Vincent, which already participates in a patient-centered medical home program, is likely to join the accountable care alliance next year. “We need to be paying for value and not just volume,” Mike Fiaschetti, president of health markets for Highmark Health Services, said in a release. “This collaborative arrangement will lead the transition to a modernized and more efficient delivery system that offers the opportunity to improve quality and achieve better health outcomes for patients and improve the patient experience.” The alliance includes about 500 primary-care physicians who will be evaluated on 28 quality and outcome measures. As it evolves, Highmark plans to add specialists, as well as expand it to the entire Highmark service area, which includes West Virginia and Delaware.
UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH) said it will more than double payments to physicians tied to quality and cost efficiency within five years, in the latest sign of transformation in the American medical system. UnitedHealth, the biggest U.S. insurer, said it expects to spend about $50 billion under accountable-care contracts by 2017, compared with $20 billion now. The programs already have slowed the increase in medical costs and reduced emergency-room visits by 17 percent. E/M shift to payments without face-to-face requirement
BAA If you have a BAA in place that meets the rules and everyone has complied, you don’t need a new BAA until 9/22/2014 If you get a new client, new BAA rules apply 9/13 If you get a new client now, you can use the old one until 9/13 and then tune it up
The new MSSP organizations officially joined the program on Jan. 1, 2013. They comprise the third and largest round of additions to the Medicare ACO program, which launched in April 2012 with 27 organizations and added 89 organizations in July 2012, and join the 32 Pioneer ACOs, which were announced in December 2011. Altogether, CMS says as many as 4 million Medicare beneficiaries are now covered by ACOs. According to CMS, about 50% of Medicare ACOs are physician-led organizations that serve fewer than 10,000 Medicare beneficiaries. Moreover, about 20% of the ACOs include rural health centers, community health centers, and critical access hospitals that service rural and low-income communities. In addition, 15 organizations in the latest ACO cohort are Advanced Payment Model ACOs, which are physician-based or rural providers granted capital to invest in electronic health systems, staff, and other infrastructure improvements. CMS will recoup the advanced payments through future shared savings. Another 15 Advanced Payment Model ACOs were announced in the second round of ACOs.
CMS won’t say why the nine hospitals may drop out, but fear of losing money on the bundled payment could be factor. Earlier this year, Jim Hinton, chairman-elect of the American Hospital Association, warned that while pioneer demo hospitals are responsible for controlling patient costs, their ability to manage the patients’ care is limited. For example, they can’t forbid the patients from seeing doctors or other health providers who aren’t part of the pioneer system. Compounding the problem is the delay the Pioneer systems have experienced in getting CMS to provide them the medical claims data they need to track spending on their assigned patients.