Eye on the Regulations: The Argument Against ACO Exclusivity

photo 3By: Jackie Bain

In an ACO, participating physicians, hospitals and other healthcare providers use a coordinated approach to provide improved care to beneficiaries. As an incentive to participate in ACOs, Medicare shares its savings when participating providers coordinate to provide quality care while spending Medicare dollars more wisely.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) have determined that a certain amount of exclusivity is necessary for an ACO beneficiary to be accurately assigned to an ACO.  Exactly how much exclusivity is necessary has been the topic of much debate.  Initially, lawmakers envisioned that only primary care physicians were required to be exclusive to their ACOs.  After the public had the opportunity comment on the proposed law, the rule was changed.  Now, it is generally accepted that if CMS assigns an ACO beneficiary to an ACO because of primary care services previously supplied by the physician, then the physician must be exclusive to the ACO.  This is true whether the physician is a primary care physician or a specialist who provides primary care services to a patient with no primary care physician. Continue reading