ACOs not as popular as government hoped

Despite health reform efforts calling for accountable care organizations, ACOs aren’t growing as fast as the government had hoped, according to Sally Pipes, president and CEO of the public policy think tank Pacific Research Institute.

Out of the of the 270 ACOs the Obama administration predicted for this year, only 154 ACOs have formed, serving 2.4 million Medicare recipients, Pipes wrote in a Forbes op-ed this week.

“Hospitals and doctors are revolting because ACOs saddle them with significant financial risks and substantial new administrative burdens. Patients won’t like them because they’ll put government bureaucrats–not their doctors–in charge of their care,” wrote Pipes, who cited possible anti-competition and price-fixing.

According to a Commonwealth Fund survey released last month, three quarters of surveyed hospitals said they are not considering ACO participation, as of September 2011; only 13 percent of hospital respondents reported participating in an ACO or planning to participate within a year. Some hospitals have been slow to embrace the payment model because of the associated financial risks.

Of the hospitals involved in ACOs, more than half (51 percent) are hospital-physician joint ventures, a fifth (20 percent) are physician led, 18 percent are governed by hospitals and 2 percent are sponsored by payers, according to the Commonwealth Fund.

However, a separate June report from intelligence business firm Leavitt Partners found ACO development across the nation grew by 38 percent in six months.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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