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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

12/22/2011 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Health care reform is being implemented in Bay Area, to go nationwide in 2014

While "Obamacare," of Health Care reform is set to go before the Supreme Court in late March, a test program Beginning January 17,  2012 is being seen as a test run for the controversial health program. Medicare patients will be enlisted in a federal program meant to improve the quality of their health care, while at the same time lowering the costs of a system that threatens to overwhelm the nation's finances.

The members of San Francisco's Brown & Toland Physicians group are one of 32 medical organizations nationwide chosen to participate in a five-year program. If successful, the program could save up to $1.1 billion in Medicare costs.

The members of San Francisco's Brown & Toland Physicians group are one of 32 medical organizations nationwide chosen to participate in a five-year program. If successful, the program could save up to $1.1 billion in Medicare costs.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

12/22/2011 (3 years ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Obamacare, ACOs, Kaiser Permanente, Bay Area


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - However - the Medicare patients will still be able to see their doctor of choice and keep all the benefits of Medicare, financial and otherwise.

The members of San Francisco's Brown & Toland Physicians group are one of 32 medical organizations nationwide chosen to participate in a five-year program. If successful, the program could save up to $1.1 billion in Medicare costs.

As  outlined in the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, the program focuses on "accountable care organizations," such as physician groups, hospitals and other health care providers banded together to coordinate care for a defined group of patients. There will be an emphasis on preventive procedures, the elimination of unnecessary and duplicative ones and the streamlining of costs.

"It is much more integrated than the fragmented fee-for-service model," Richard Fish, CEO of Brown & Toland says. The company's partners include California Pacific Medical Center and other local hospitals, labs and diagnostic centers. "It produces better clinical results, better patient satisfaction, and it saves money."

Participants in the "pioneer ACO" program will also share in the saving, based on a metric of improved patient care and overall cost reduction.

"But this is not just about money," Fish says. "This is an opportunity for doctors to work directly with Medicare, and offer the benefits of a coordinated model."

Accountable care organizations are nothing new. One of the most notable and long-standing is Kaiser Permanente. However, there has been a renewed interest in them as of late.

"ACOs focus on achieving clinical improvement goals rather than on the volume of services provided," notes the California HealthCare Foundation, comparing ACOs with the ever more expensive fee-for-service system.

Several Bay Area health care providers such as Brown & Toland, Catholic Health Care West, San Ramon's Hill Physicians Medical Group and UCSF Medical Center formed ACOs earlier this year for members of the San Francisco Health Service System.

ACOs still have major hills to climb. The projected $1 billion in savings from the Medicare pilot program is a drop in the bucket compared with the system's $468 billion budget for 2011 alone.

"Right now this is more a proof of concept," Fish says. "We've got to demonstrate clinical improvement and lower costs."

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