What impact will the new ACO's have on physicians and patient health?

This is about two weeks old but still very early in its developmental stages (hey, I was dealing with tax season!). If Congress doesn't gut the funding for it, the program will have a significant impact on physicians and patients. Let's hope it's a win for both.

Donald M. Berwick M.D., the dministrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), gives his perspective on Accountable Care Organizations (ACO's) in this New England Journal of Medicine article: "Launching Accountable Care Organizations The Proposed Rule for the Medicare Shared Savings Program."

Here's the overview to help you get started:

Section 3022 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) establishes the Medicare Shared Savings Program for accountable care organizations (ACOs) as a potential solution.1 The creation of ACOs is one of the first delivery-reform initiatives that will be implemented under the ACA. Its purpose is to foster change in patient care so as to accelerate progress toward a three-part aim: better care for individuals, better health for populations, and slower growth in costs through improvements in care. Under the law, an ACO will assume responsibility for the care of a clearly defined population of Medicare beneficiaries attributed to it on the basis of their patterns of use of primary care. If an ACO succeeds in both delivering high-quality care and reducing the cost of that care to a level below what would otherwise have been expected, it will share in the Medicare savings it achieves. Read the full article.

What do you think about ACO's?