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FTC to Explore Antitrust Waivers for ACOs

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, October 6, 2010

Some federal antitrust laws could be waived if they hinder the creation of effective accountable care organizations, senior federal officials told healthcare leaders on Tuesday.

"From an antitrust perspective, we want to explore whether we can develop safe harbors so doctors, hospitals, and other medical professionals know when they can collaborate and when they cannot," Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz said, in opening remarks at Tuesday's FTC/Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service Workshop on ACOs.

"We are also considering whether we can put in place an expedited review process for those ACOs that fall outside of the safe harbors," he said.

Health and Human Services Inspector General Daniel R. Levinson told the workshop that fraud and abuse rules enforced by his office should not stand in the way of improving quality and reducing costs through ACOs.

"As the Medicare and Medicaid programs incorporate and test new payment and delivery models, there is a need for fresh thinking about program integrity and the types of risks faced by our programs and beneficiaries," Levinson said. 

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