Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs)

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Medicare is changing the way it delivers health care services to its beneficiaries by emphasizing quality care and lower costs through advancement of alternative payment models. For example, as a new payment model, Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) have proven very successful. ACOs are groups of doctors, hospitals and other health care providers who come together voluntarily to give coordinated high quality care to Medicare beneficiaries they serve with the goal of avoiding unnecessary duplication of services and preventing medical errors. An ACO is not a Medicare Advantage plan or a Health Maintenance Organization. If the ACO delivers high-quality care and spends Medicare dollars wisely, it gets to share in the savings it achieves. There are several different types of ACOs. The Next Generation models, for example, provide ACOs with the flexibility to seek waivers that would permit the use of telehealth and remote patient monitoring.

In comments to CMS, AARC stressed the importance of having respiratory therapists as part of the ACO multi-disciplinary team. We recommend respiratory therapists check with their hospital to determine if it is part of an ACO. If it is, it gives respiratory therapists an excellent opportunity to highlight their skills and expertise as a way of helping to improve care and lower costs as part of the team.