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Mass Medical Society Expresses ACO Reservations

Jeff Elliott, for HealthLeaders Media, December 10, 2010

Responding to media reports that it had thrown its support behind the state's proposed global payment system dictating physician reimbursements, the Massachusetts Medical Society has quickly clarified its position adopted at its House of Delegates Interim Meeting.

Specifically, MMS does not want to convey the message that it fully supports  the accountable care organization delivery model, which has garnered significant favor among many Massachusetts policymakers as a payment reform solution. Rather, the society said, it is one option to be considered along with others in regards to physician reimbursement.

Among other policy decision delivered at the meeting, MMS said it would advocate for multiple, innovative approaches to healthcare financing, regardless of any payment reform legislation that the state may introduce. "There must be diversity in payment systems in the sense that one size does not fit all," said MMS President Alice Coombs.

The society's greatest concern, according to Coombs, is the disparity among  providers that would easily integrate into an ACO environment and others that lack the appropriate technology or funding to adopt the ACO framework, including a global payment system.

"We support the notion that an integrated healthcare delivery system is a good thing," she told HealthLeaders. "However, there are physicians within our membership that lack the infrastructure to be able to transition into an accountable care organization at this stage. We encourage a pluralistic compensation system to include fee-for-service, salary, and limited pilot studies that utilize global payment system."

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