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Operational Challenges Associated with Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs): A Conversation with Dr. Richard Morel (April 21st)

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As a follow up to my April 1st conversation with Jim Gera concerning bundled payments, during this podcast Dr. Richard Morel discusses Medicare's other major payment reform program, Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), or WESTMED Medical Group's three year experience as a Track 1 ACO.   The Medicare ACO program is a creation of the 2010 Accountable Care Act and participation in the program began in 2012.   Currently, there are 434 ACOs (over 90 percent participating in the "no risk" Track 1) caring for approximately 7.5 million Medicare beneficiaries.  The program to date has been a mixed success.  After two performance years (2013 and 2014) only 25 percent of participants have been successful, i.e., have earned shared savings.  (Performance year three or 2015 performance will be made known this September.)  CMS is currently in the process of revising how the agency calculates an ACO's reset financial benchmark.  It is anticipated these changes will improve program performance, or improve both provider interest in participating (or continuing to participate) in the program and participant success in earning shared savings.   

During this 21-minute conversation Dr. Morel provides an overview of WESTMED, explains the organization's interest in becoming a Medicare Shared Savings Program or ACO participant in 2013, WESTMED's experience under their first three year agreement, what explained their success, challenges they've found with the program, how the program could be improved and their expectations now as a second agreement period Track 1 ACO.

Dr. Richard Morel is the Co-Medical Director of WESTMED Medical Group in Yonkers, New York.  Prior to joining WESTMED in 2008 Dr. Morel WESTMEDDr RichardMorel (2)was in private practice affiliated with Columbia-Presbyterian Riverdale Hospital for 12 years.  Dr. Morel is board certified in internal medicine.  He received his medical degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, did his postgraduate training at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center and  received his masters of medical management from Carnegie Mellon.  He is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the American College of Physician Executives.  

For information regarding WESTMED go to: http://www.westmedgroup.com/.



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