Just two potential Medicare accountable care organizations so far have asked federal officials for expedited antitrust reviews through a special avenue created to make sure antitrust uncertainty didn't create a drag on the government's attempts to get the model off the ground.
Both of those ACOs later withdrew their requests, the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Justice Department said in a new report on their enforcement guidance. The policy was issued in October 2011 in tandem with final regulations on the healthcare reform law's Medicare shared-savings program for ACOs.
The dearth of interest in the reviews suggests hospitals and doctors have enough general guidance from previous policy statements on clinical integration, said Douglas Ross, an antitrust lawyer with Davis Wright Tremaine. Ross also said many providers consider Medicare approval for an ACO enough to satisfy antitrust regulators' integration requirements.