Cigna Starts Accountable Care Plan in San Franciso Bay Area

SAN JOSE, Calif., October 14, 2013 – Cigna (NYSE: CI) and Santa Clara County IPA (SCCIPA) have launched a collaborative accountable care initiative to improve patient access to health care, enhance care coordination, and achieve the “triple aim” of improved health, affordability and patient experience. The program became effective October 1, and is Cigna’s third accountable care initiative in the San Francisco Bay Area.

According to a company announcement, collaborative accountable care is Cigna’s approach to accomplishing the same population health goals as accountable care organizations, or ACOs. The program will benefit more than 13,000 individuals covered by a Cigna PPO health plan who receive care from SCCIPA’s 850 primary care doctors and specialists.

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University of Utah Health Plan Launches Accountable Care Program with Value Based Payments to Providers

Salt Lake City, UT – Officials at University of Utah Health Plans (UUHP) have unveiled the Accountable Care Program, which will serve 56,000 members in Utah. The new program includes a partnership for value based payments between the health plan and the University of Utah Primary Care Physicians Group and is the first Medicaid ACO plan to accomplish this in Utah.

As part of the program, University physicians will monitor and coordinate all aspects of an individual’s medical care. This means patients with chronic conditions like diabetes will see one provider who will coordinate all that patient’s needs, such as diabetes care, eye care, and skin care.

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Patient-Centric Quality Measures Are Needed for True ACO Ratings

ACOs and payers should weave much more specific, function-oriented patient satisfaction and patient-driven decision-making measures into the quality standards that determine reimbursement for physicians and organizations, ACO executives say.

Creating these new quality measures — and scoring well on them — will require widespread changes in health information technology (HIT) systems, physician attitudes and organizations, says Palmer Evans, M.D., former senior vice president and chief medical officer at Tucson Medical Center in Arizona and senior advisor to the South Arizona Accountable Care Organization, which includes Tucson Medical Center and more than 170 physicians.

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San Francisco Area Health Centers Seek to form ACO

A prominent group of health centers in the North Bay (San Francisco) has applied to form what is known under the new federal health law as an “accountable care organization” serving thousands of Medicare patients that, if approved, could be one of the first of its kind in the nation.

Under the ACO program by Medicare, health care providers and payers are encouraged to better coordinate care, hoping to achieve the so-called “triple aim” of improving quality of care, improving patient experience and reducing costs, officials said.

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ACOs’ Coordinated Care Savings May Be Contagious

Accountable care organizations (ACOs) may actually be the unicorns we’ve been waiting for, spreading their cost-saving magic throughout the health system.

An early cost-sharing program in Massachusetts designed to cut costs for private Blue Cross Blue Shield patients also lowered costs for Medicare patients who were seen by the same providers, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Kaiser Health News FAQ On ACOs: Accountable Care Organizations, Explained

One of the main ways the Affordable Care Act seeks to reduce health care costs is by encouraging doctors, hospitals and other health care providers to form networks to coordinate care better, which could keep costs down.

To do that, the law is trying a carrot-and-stick approach in the Medicare program: Accountable Care Organizations.  ACOs have become one of the most talked about new ideas in Obamacare.  Providers get get paid more if they keep their patients well. About four million Medicare beneficiaries are now in an ACO, and, combined with the private sector, more than 428 hospitals have already signed up. An estimated 14 percent of the U.S. population is now being served by an ACO. You may even be in one and not know it.

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