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N.J. practices planning to launch ACOs


By Andis Robeznieks
Posted: December 21, 2010 - 2:45 pm ET
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Two New Jersey independent practice associations are linking together to form a new accountable care organization and, according to a business associate, this move is being done to counter the rapid growth of a larger medical group in the region.

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The two groups, Vista Health System IPA and Central Jersey Physician Network IPA, are forming Optimus Healthcare Partners, an ACO with some 650 physicians, according to a news release. The two groups had been affiliated with a third organization, United Medical Group, and together the three groups worked with a management services organization called Partners in Care, or PIC.

In an e-mail, PIC Executive Vice President Bruce Dees said United Medical and PIC also are in the formal process of becoming an ACO, while PIC also will become an accountable care management services organization to provide services to self-funded plan sponsors, health plans, ACOs and other entities.

“What we've been doing for 15 years is exactly what accountable care organizations are being formed to do,” said Kevin O'Brien, CEO of PIC, who said his organization will be working on five to 15 different initiatives that are developing in the region as an ACMSO. This includes Optimus Healthcare. “The intent is for the parties to maintain and evolve our business relationship,” O'Brien said.

He added that Vista Health and Central Jersey felt they had to move quickly as a response to the growth of Berkeley Heights-based Summit Medical Group. “Physicians in that region are beginning to feel they had no other alternative” than to join with Summit, O'Brien said. “Their moving now provides a visible alternative to physicians who felt like they didn't have a choice.”

Representatives from Summit and Optimus were unavailable for comment.

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