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Barnabas Health ACO gets federal approval

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New Jersey's fourth accountable-care organization was approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services today, one of 89 newly approved ACOs in the United States and the only one here.

Barnabas Health ACO-North LLC was approved to provide coordinated care for Medicare patients and participate in shared savings among hospitals and physicians. Previously, Atlantic ACO, Optimus Healthcare Partners and Hackensack Physician-Hospital Alliance ACO were approved in April to begin operating as accountable care organizations.

CMS has approved 154 Medicare ACOs since the initiative was created in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. ACOs group hospitals, physicians and other care providers together to coordinate more efficient care for a population of patients.

The ACO will consist of Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville, and Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, as well as aligned physicians throughout the area.

Anthony Slonim, chief medical officer of Barnabas Health, says the organization will take patients and their families “out of the driver’s seat” for managing and organizing care.

Slonim said the shared savings program “is not about accepting risk, but sharing savings.” He added that the formation of the ACO has opened dialogue between providers has been a good learning opportunity for how to prepare for additional changes coming in government health care reimbursement.

Slonim also said Barnabas Health is currently discussing whether to apply for an ACO for its southern hospitals for the upcoming year.

In addition to announcing the new ACOs, CMS also announced the organizations will have to report back to CMS on 33 quality measures to ensure the care provided is safe and of high quality, in addition to being efficient.

Applications for Medicare ACOs that intend to begin operations Jan. 1, 2013, will be accepted from Aug. 1 through Sept. 6. CMS will now accept applications annually to expand the program.

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