AAFP Statement: AAFP Commends CMS for Improving Medicare ACO Final Rule, Announcing the Advance Payment Model

Friday, October 21, 2011

Statement attributable to:
Glen Stream, MD, MBI
American Academy of Family Physicians

“The Medicare Accountable Care Organization final rule recently released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services represents a substantial step toward mending America’s broken health care system. The final rule sets the stage for transforming the way patients receive care and promises to end the fragmentation, duplication and miscommunication that contribute to poor care and high costs.

“The American Academy of Family Physicians has consistently supported efforts to improve the quality and efficiency of care, and we are pleased to see that CMS made progress in that direction through this final rule. Under the final rule, CMS accepted the AAFP recommendation to:

  • allow primary care physicians to participate in more than one Medicare ACO;
  • eliminate the proposed retrospective beneficiary assignment method and instead will use a preliminary prospective assignment method with beneficiaries identified quarterly;
  • significantly reduce — from 65 to 33 — the number of individual quality measures used to determine if an ACO qualifies for shared savings;
  • provide quality reporting requirements for years two and three of the program; and
  • allow participation from Critical Access Hospitals, Federally Qualified health Centers and rural Health Clinics.

“Moreover, the final rule recognizes that physician practices cannot convert their administrative procedures and health record systems overnight. By limiting the required number of quality measures to be reported to 33 and by phasing the reporting requirements in over three years, the rules enable small- to medium-sized practices to transform their office procedures and other functions over a manageable time frame.

“Taken together with other initiatives such as the Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative, the AAFP is optimistic that the Medicare ACOs will help move health care into a seamless, coordinated and responsive system that our patients deserve."

Editor's Note: To arrange an interview with Dr. Stream, contact Leslie Champlin, 800-274-2237, Ext. 5224, or lchampli@aafp.org.

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Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 136,700 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the largest medical society devoted solely to primary care. Family physicians conduct approximately one in five office visits -- that’s 192 million visits annually or 48 percent more than the next most visited medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care.  To learn more about the specialty of family medicine, the AAFP's positions on issues and clinical care, and for downloadable multi-media highlighting family medicine, visit www.aafp.org/media. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s award-winning consumer website, www.familydoctor.org(familydoctor.org).