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Last Updated: Feb 19, 2013 - 1:22:36 AM
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1,800 Michigan doctors launch effort to improve health care for Medicare patients

Jan 17, 2013 - 5:00:00 AM
POM ACO grew out of discussions with physician groups around the state. Many wanted to get involved in the ACO movement, but did not have the resources to do so alone.

[RxPG] ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- 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.

The state of Michigan has been a leader in health care quality efforts. Many have focused on improving care and containing costs for patients with private insurance, but this new ACO focuses specifically on traditional Medicare, says David Spahlinger, M.D., executive director of the U-M FGP and the chief executive officer of POM ACO. Our member physicians are ready to take their already strong quality-improvement efforts and focus them on improving the care of the traditional Medicare patient.

The new ACO leverages U-M's experience, including its year of running a Pioneer ACO, which has just begun its second year of coordinating the care of 25,000 Medicare participants together with the IHA physician group.

POM ACO allows us to strengthen our relationship with physicians across the state, and bolster our position as one of the largest and most highly regarded population health organizations in the country, says Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, M.D., executive vice president for medical affairs at the University of Michigan and CEO of UMHS. This is part of our statewide mission, and our goal of using our knowledge to improve care through new practices, policies and partnerships. Additionally, it builds on several years of our experience and demonstrated success developing ACO models.

POM ACO grew out of discussions with physician groups around the state. Many wanted to get involved in the ACO movement, but did not have the resources to do so alone.

The other physician groups with members in POM ACO are:

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