At a press conference at Fletcher Allen Health Care this morning, Representative Peter Welch unveiled bipartisan legislation to build upon the progress of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) in shifting the reimbursement of health care providers away from the traditional "fee for service" model to a focus on improving the health outcomes of patients. Joining Welch at the press conference were Fletcher Allen Health Care CEO John Brumsted, M.D. and OneCare CEO Todd Moore.
Welch is the author of a provision in the Affordable Care Act that created a nationwide Medicare ACO program. An ACO is a collaborative of health care providers working together to improve the quality and efficiency of patient care, rather than increase the number and type of services performed. The goal of ACOs is to drive down health care costs and improve patient health outcomes by creating financial incentives to provide better, more cost-effective care.
Joined by Representative Diane Black (R-TN), Welch will this week introduce The ACO Improvement Act of 2014. The bill will improve the ACO model by further incentivizing the focus on health outcomes, increasing collaboration between patients and doctors, and providing ACO's with additional tools.
"Vermont's health policy leaders have long understood that to reduce health care costs and increase quality, the incentives built into the provider payment system need to be changed. In short, we need to reward value, not volume," said Rep. Welch. "Paying health care providers based on improvements in patient health rather than the number of procedures they perform is the way of the future. Our legislation will advance these payment reforms and is based on the experience of ACOs in Vermont and around the country."
"The ACO model is one of our principle strategies to develop coordinated systems of care to improve health care delivery for the people of Vermont and Northern New York," said John Brumsted, M.D., president and chief executive officer, Fletcher Allen Health Care and Fletcher Allen Partners. "That is why we support this legislation. It will improve the ACO model and improve our ability to manage population health."
"I commend Reps. Welch and Black for their leadership in working to improve accountable care organizations," said Dr. Elliott Fisher, Director of Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice. "Their efforts to increase patient engagement and offer greater certainty for those who choose to begin on this path are hugely valuable. I hope we are able to see these changes come to fruition."
Rep. Welch is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Rep. Black, a former nurse, is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. The two committees have jurisdiction over all health care legislation in the House of Representatives.