The June 18th blog by my colleague and friend William MacBain posed a valid question when he asked whether Medicare ACO’s are a revolution in healthcare or a side show. My view–it’s that and more. To the point that Medicare ACO’s will probably have only a minor impact on overall Medicare expenditures, I totally agree but would argue that significantly reducing Medicare expenses is not the overriding goal of the CMS sponsored shared savings program. I believe the overriding goal is to stimulate provider change in how healhcare is priced, delivered and made accessible to those who need it.
To the question of whether Medicare ACO’s are a sideshow, I would respond with yes but in a good way–meaning that ACO’s, Medicare sponsored or not, have helped ramp up the level of dialogue and drawn attention to the reality that change is coming to the healthcare industry, that it will come in many forms and that ACO’s are one model for implementing such change. ACo’s are not the magic cure for what ails the healthcare industry but ACO’s do begin to address some of the symptoms — that is a good thing.