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In Ariz., too, mixed record on Medicare Accountable Care



 A dust storm moves in on Phoenix.
The Arizona Republic reports that “six out of 10 Arizona health systems participating in …{the}  programs spent more money than Medicare projected last year, and one program broke even. Another three health systems saved Medicare money compared to what the agency projected spending.”

Healthcare organizations that meet  certain quality and safety goals while reaching Medicare’s savings targets can earn bonuses from the Feds.

And, the paper notes, the concept  has also gained momentum in the private sector. “Nordstrom and Aetna are among the private-sector companies that have sought Accountable Care arrangements with Banner Health Network. The Banner-Aetna arrangement serves more than 100,000 people and helped trim health spending by 5 percent in 2013.”

Other local {Phoenix area} hospitals, too, are looking to expand Accountable Care beyond the Medicare initiative.

“It really has spurred change in what we’re doing,”  Richard Silver,  M.D., senior vice president  for  population health at Scottsdale-based HonorHealth, told The Republic. “What we were doing before was not sustainable. Health care is too expensive.”

In Arizona, 10 health systems have enrolled more than 175,000 seniors in Accountable Care and saved Medicare about $2.2 million, says the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Still, the newspaper reports, Arizona’s savings are largely due to Banner Health Network, “which saved Medicare more than $29 million in 2014, the third largest savings among programs nationwide.”

A problem has been that organizations do not necessarily know which patients Medicare assigns to  an Accountable Care network. Medicare has assigned the patients through their physicians, but hasn’t been telling the ACOs which patients are assigned to their networks until the end of the year. However, Medicare is changing that policy.



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