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All Things HIT

Oct 24 2011   2:44PM GMT

The ONC, a proven listener in HITECH Affordable Care Acts



Posted by: AllinHIT
ACO, Affordable Care Act, American Hospital Association, EHR, Federally Qualified Health Centers, HITECH, Meaningful use, ONC, Rural health clinics

From final regulations on Meaningful Use stage 1, to the most recent ACO rules, the ONC has shown that they are listening, reading, and putting thoughts to the industry comments.  The recent rule changes to the Shared Savings ACO program, are being applauded by the American Hospital Association, AARP, the AMA, and many physician groups.  The new and final rule, truly has addressed many of the barriers to entry, which existed in the preliminary rule. The most favorite changes are the obvious, Changing the risk burden in Track 1, eliminating the two-sided model of savings and losses in the third year, allowing for “first dollar” sharing after minimium savings are reached, and reducing the number of quality measures.  These changes were expected, but its the several small changes, which received my attention.

The stated inclusion of FQHC’s (Federally Qualified Health Centers) and RHC (Rural Health Clinics) as ACO qualified entities, is welcome news to those delivering care in those communities.  I am also hopeful  the adoption of telehealth technologies will increase, due to its effectiveness in reducing hospitalizations, increasing compliance, and in delivery care.  Although the EHR physician use requirement of 50% has been eliminated, the role of EHR and other technologies, is crucial for success.  This is especially true looking at year 3 and beyond, regardless of a chosen track. 

Another related item is ONC’s test creation, Advance Payment ACO Model.  This is a program that will provide up-front funding to IPA’s, and rural providers, for developing an ACO model.  This is a loan program, funded to the tune of $170 million, hence monies will be repaid (I am trying to find out if monies will be deducted from shared savings). I also suspect this was birthed from their Innovation Center.

Lastly, they changed the rule that marketing materials have to be approved by CMS/ONC.  Instead, they will provide the language to be used, allowing for ACO entities to market much faster to the Medicare population.  Since this is a voluntary program, recruiting of patients is important and CMS approval for marketing materials would of been a clog in the wheel. I thank the ONC, not only for not being a clog in the ACO wheel, but for giving it an engine, moving us to a value purchasing model alot faster!

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