Independent Physicians, MMA Discuss ACOs with Franken Staff
[MMA News Now, April 26, 2012] The MMA and two of its members met with representatives of Sen. Al Franken’s office on April 17 to discuss the relationship between independent medical groups and accountable care organizations (ACOs).
The meeting is a result of Sen. Franken’s visit to the MMA Board of Trustees meeting in March at which Stuart Cox, MD, MMA board member asked the senator about ACOs. Cox, Dave Thorson, MD, BOT chair, and Paul Berrisford, the COO of Thorson’s Family Health Services clinic, took part in the meeting.
The creation of ACOs has been spurred by the 2010 Affordable Care of Act, which authorized the Medicare Shared Savings Program, and by the Pioneer ACO initiative developed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. Several ACOs have formed in Minnesota through larger entities such as Allina, Fairview and Park Nicollet but many physicians, like Cox and Thorson, in independent practices are still determining how to best work with ACOs.
“The meeting was a good first step,” said Dave Renner, the MMA’s director of state and federal legislation. “We appreciate the senator’s openness and interest in helping independent practitioners. While we support the new payment models designed to align incentives for quality patient care, ACOs are not the only way to achieve payment reform.”
"The challenge for us is to come up with pared-down specific ideas that will improve the delivery and cost of healthcare and are politically feasible," Cox said.
Franken's staff offered to follow up with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to ensure that independent clinics remain part of the discussion in future payment reform efforts.