How Will ACOs Share Liability Risk?

Like their predecessors in health care's parade of acronyms -- HMOs and MCOs -- ACOs will need to balance quality patient care with saving money. When that balance is questioned by consumers and inevitably by the courts, how, exactly, will the risk be shared?

One of the key concepts in the formation of -- and probably the success of -- accountable care organizations is shared risk. A pivotal part of the Affordable Care Act's plan to reform an expensive health care system, ACOs are networks of doctors, hospitals and other providers that coordinate care and share responsibility and financial risk.

Like their predecessors in health care's parade of acronyms -- HMOs and MCOs -- ACOs will need to balance quality patient care with saving money. When that balance is questioned by consumers and inevitably by the courts, how, exactly, will the risk be shared?

The question is posed in a July 10 Viewpoint article in the Journal of the American Medical Association by H. Benjamin Harvey, a physician and attorney at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Glenn Cohen, an attorney at Harvard Law School. The authors point out that managed care organizations have some liability protection from the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, but ACOs will not have the same level of protection.

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Source: California Health Line