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ACA: Basics

12 Days of “Gifts” from the Affordable Care Act – Gift Eight: Increased Quality and Coordination of Care

In the spirit of this holiday season, the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health invites you to share in a series of blog posts, each containing a special “gift” from health care reform. Some have already been implemented and some are gifts still to come; but all are very important improvements to our healthcare system.

Gift Eight: Increased Quality and Coordination of Care

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that at least 1.7 million health care associated infections occur each year, leading to 99,000 deaths. Adverse medication occasions cause more than 770,000 injuries and deaths each year. Furthermore, the cost of treating patients who are harmed by these happenings is estimated up to $5 billion each year.

This unsettling information leads us to the much needed “gift” eight – increasing quality and coordination in health care. Although not an easy task, the new health care laws provide us with a variety of provisions that will result in better health care outcomes. Patients covered through Medicare usually have at least one chronic condition, and many American’s have several. A step in the right direction is the creation of “Accountable Care Organizations” – some of whom were announced on Monday, will launch the first performance period of Pioneer Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) at the start of the New Year.

The Pioneer ACOs will test a variety of payment models, increase care to those covered through Medicare, and learn how coordinate care with private insurers. They will also work on cost savings and growth and is expected to lead to a $1.1 billion in savings over the next 5 years. The health care law provides incentives to physicians to join together into the ACOs – increasing their capacity to coordinate and better serve patients. This will decrease the costs of care in the Medicare health care system.

Another incentive that will improve the quality of care for a wide range of individuals – and one that has already taken effect – is increasing primary care providers in the health care system. The law creates incentives to expand the number of primary care doctors, nurses, and physician assistants – including funding for scholarships and loan repayment for primary care doctors dedicated to working in underserved areas. Increasing the primary care workforce will increase the access to preventative care – lowering health care costs, and increasing care quality. Furthermore, in 2013, primary care doctors will be compensated no less than 100% of Medicare payment rates.

Visit us tomorrow, where we will look at how health care reform will help us to better understand and break barriers with regard to health care disparities.

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