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Mixed results from Pioneer ACOs

The Wall Street Journal, July 16, 2013

Lowering healthcare costs is tougher than improving the quality of care, according to first-year results from a key pilot program under the federal health law. All of the 32 health systems in the so-called Pioneer Accountable Care Organization program improved patient care on quality measures such as cancer screenings and controlling blood pressure, according to data to be released Tuesday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. But only 18 of the 32 managed to lower costs for the Medicare patients they treated?a major goal of the effort. Two hospitals lost money on the program in the first year. Seven have notified CMS that they intend to move to another program where they will face less financial risk. Two others have indicated they intend to leave the program, CMS says, but it declined to identify them. [Subscription required.]