In our earlier blog ACOs-Accountable Care Organizations Part 2- The Pros for Them I talked about the arguments supporting the creation of ACOs. This blog installment presents arguments against them.
Accountable Care Organizations are a new concept intended to save Medicare dollars provided for in Obamacare. They are also a radical new approach to healthcare that will fundamentally change the relationship between doctors and Medicare patients. Sadly if these ACOs become reality more people will die from treatable conditions.
ACOs sound innocuous enough, they are “simply networks of hospitals and doctors that agree to manage all the medical needs of at least 5,000 Medicare patients for at least three years.” Similar to traditional Medicare billing these doctors and hospitals will be paid in a fee for service system funded by Medicare.
The insidiousness of these Accountable Care Organizations arises in the fact that the federal government through the Medicare program would offer bonuses to providers in an ACO who are able to keep down costs while meeting specific standards for quality.
Stated differently, doctors and hospitals will be paid by the government to push patients toward less expensive treatments including President Barack Obama’s example of prescribing the pain pill instead of recommending a pacemaker. This amounts to the government having a serious hand in what treatments people receive, a drastic departure from traditional American healthcare.
What’s worse is that since this is largely behind the scenes, people may not even know their doctor or hospital is part of an ACO and therefore may not question if their doctor is giving them all the options rather than only the cheap ones. While it is true that these doctors and hospitals will need to meet certain standards of care, if public schools are any example of government standards anyone, who plans on getting sick or growing old should be very worried.
The Obama administration’s Health and Human Services department insists the creation of Accountable Care Organizations will incentivize doctors to keep their patients healthy. However, many observers insist the more realistic outcome to expect is patients being denied treatments because of cost considerations as the doctor now has a vested interest in providing as few tests and prescribing the fewest amount of prescriptions and surgeries possible.
Pretty strong arguments against.What do you think? Now’s the time to speak up and let your opinion be heard while ACOs are still taking shape. We’ll be keeping a close eye on things so stay tuned for more ACO related blogs from MAS.