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Photo by Grant HuangYou’ll face less risk and fewer administrative hassles if you choose to participate in an accountable care organization (ACO), thanks to changes made in the final ACO rule, released today in the Federal Register. CMS took pains to review feedback from physician advocacy groups and believes the final rule takes many of their biggest concerns into account, top agency officials said during a conference call with reporters.

Image used with permissionYour peers feel most challenged by new, upcoming physician payment models that put more financial risk on practices and by earning Medicare's electronic health record (EHR) incentive bonus, according to the latest research from the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA). The organization's fourth annual "Medical Practice Today: What Members Have to Say" report, based on email responses from 1,190 MGMA members, found the following five issues to be the top challenges of running a practice ...

Image from http://innovations.cms.gov/CMS is launching three new initiatives relating to Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) that have nothing to do with the ACO proposed rule, but come instead from the agency's new Innovation Center. Remember: The Innovation Center was established by the health reform law as a testing ground for new Medicare payment models aimed at curbing the unsustainable cost of the nation's priciest entitlement program.

Photo by Grant HuangYou would get a five-year vacation from the massive Medicare pay cuts called for by the sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula -- if AMA President Cecil B. Wilson had his way. In his testimony before Congress, Wilson calls for a "three-pronged approach" to reforming Medicare's physician payment system. It starts with a permanent repeal of SGR, a five-year period of "stable payment updates that keep pace with the growth in medical practice costs" and a transition to new payment models.

Photo by Grant HuangAccountable care organizations (ACOs) are the talk of town at the moment, but the current proposed rule for ACOs offers little incentive for small to medium-sized physician practices to participate, according to one industry insider. 

"Only those groups that truly have the money and resources are going to play," says this source, who works as a regulatory analyst and lobbyist at a major physician advocacy group in Washington. "As the rule is set up now, it's a very tough sell for smaller groups ... and a lot of care in this country is provided by small practices, five providers or less."

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