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Medicare ACOs Add 106

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, January 11, 2013

Providers across the nation launched 106 new Medicare Accountable Care Organizations on January 1 in the latest ramp-up of the coordinated care program. Since the program's inception in late 2011, more than 250 ACOs have been formed in almost every state, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services officials said Thursday.

"By CMS's estimate these total organizations are serving more than 4 million Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries. That represents more than 10% of the overall fee-for-service program," Jonathan Blum, CMS acting principal deputy administrator and director of the Center for Medicare, told reporters in an afternoon teleconference.

"Beyond the growth we are pleased by the diversity—both geographic diversity and organizational diversity. Forty-nine states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico now have one or more ACOs operating within that area. But also the organizations that are participating are large and small, physician-led and physicians partnering with hospitals," Blum said.

The formation of Cedars-Sinai Accountable Care, which is the new ACO for Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, is a means of preparing for implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, says Thomas Gordon, CEO of Cedars-Sinai Medical Delivery Network, an umbrella group of physicians' organizations associated with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

"When you look at healthcare reform, and the need to improve patient care and reduce the cost of care, this program was a way to do that," says Gordon, who will head up the ACO. "All the doctors and executives thought this was the right approach."

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