1,800 Michigan doctors launch effort to improve health care for Medicare patients

More than 1,800 Michigan physicians will work together to tackle the challenge of providing better medical care and slowing the growth of health costs, in a new effort that will help them care for 81,000 of their Medicare-enrolled patients.

The new organization is a joint venture of the University of Michigan Health System and eight other Michigan physician organizations. Together, they have launched a new accountable care organization, or ACO, that includes members of nine large physician groups across the Lower Peninsula.

One of the largest ACOs in the country, it is called the Physician Organization of Michigan ACO, or POM ACO. It is one of 106 new Medicare Shared Savings Program ACOs approved by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

POM ACO focuses on the triple goal of better care for patients, better health for entire populations, and lower health care costs. The physicians will share in the savings to Medicare if the costs for caring for the patients stay below the national growth rate, and quality is improved.

The U-M Faculty Group Practice, which includes the physicians who practice at UMHS, has been a leader in the ACO movement since its participation in a Medicare demonstration project that began in 2005. That effort served as a prototype for ACOs under federal health care reform. UMHS is supporting the startup costs for the new organization.

All patients whose doctors are participating in POM ACO will continue to see their regular doctors and also may have access to new programs or services. Each will receive a letter in coming days explaining POM ACO and giving contact information.

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