Although the American Medical Group Association takes credit for the inclusion of accountable care organization provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, it is distancing itself from the proposed ACO regulations recently issued by the CMS, and it is rallying its members to push for changes in the final rules.
Still working on their creation
"The inclusion of an ACO provision in the healthcare reform bill marks one of our most significant legislative achievements and is the capstone of an intense lobbying effort last year by AMGA and its members," states the AMGA's 2010 member activities report (PDF) . "Our commitment to this issue was to ensure that AMGA members have the opportunity to become ACOs."
But AMGA President and CEO Donald Fisher had a different opinion on the proposed ACO rules Friday morning when he opened the organization's annual conference at the sprawling Gaylord National Resort on the east bank of the Potomac River in National Harbor, Md.
"Like you, we were very disappointed with these regulations," Fisher said.
Fisher didn't offer specifics but said that AMGA is working on its formal comments. He urged members to submit comments of their own to the CMS. He added that the AMGA has met with members of Congress and senior CMS officials to discuss the need for "substantial changes" to the regulations as proposed.
He also discussed the various ACO education efforts the AMGA is undertaking, including its "5 Real Answers" campaign. That includes the different websites aimed at consumers, the media and policymakers, with each offering information on ACO-related research, definitions, case studies and frequently asked questions.
"We have found a lot of confusion among stakeholders about what accountable care really is," said Fisher. That might have been the understatement of the morning, though the next speaker, AMGA Chairman Dr. Scott Hayworth, president and CEO of the Mount Kisco (N.Y.) Medical Group, came close.
"It's not clear what healthcare will look like in five years," Hayworth said, though he added that it will be more clinically integrated and "the next phase is value-based healthcare."
Hayworth's presentation included a video of healthcare leaders noting how physicians "are in the ideal situation" to drive healthcare change as well a message from rookie Congresswoman Dr. Nan Hayworth (R-N.Y.). She said how it's not up to the federal government to provide primary care for the nation, but to provide a framework in which providers operate.
After the video, Scott Hayworth noted "I'm really fond of that congresswoman from New York; she has my vote."
Apparently, when speaking to the big AMGA family, he didn't have mention that Rep. Hayworth is his wife.
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