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Q&A: Aetna's Charles Kennedy on Developing ACOs

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, October 3, 2012

The federal government is pushing hard for accountable care organizations. On July 1, eighty-nine ACOs opened in 40 states. The next wave to become operational on January 1, 2013 is even bigger. It has at least 400 provider groups on board, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

On the commercial side, the formation of accountable care organizations is also steaming ahead. Aetna  began contracting in 2011 and wants to develop a national ACO network over the next five years. With more than 18 million medical members, the Hartford, CT-based insurer has a company division dedicated to ACOs.

Led by Charles Kennedy, MD, CEO of Accountable Care Solutions, Aetna's Aligned Care Solutions division already has 10 ACOs up and running and 14 more under contract. Kennedy and his team are working with another 65 physician practices to lay the foundation for ACOs through a care management infrastructure embedded in physician practices. That's the first step toward getting them comfortable with managing risk.

I recently spoke with Dr. Kennedy about Aetna's ACO process. Here are some excerpts from our conversation:

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