Physicians call ACO redesign 'direct contracting in disguise'

Physicians for a National Health Program is calling CMS' new Accountable Care Organization Realizing Equity, Access, and Community Health Model "direct contracting in disguise," according to a Feb. 24 news release shared with Becker's

Hundreds of providers urged HHS to reform the Direct Contracting model instead of scrapping it after the agency said in December 2020 that it would be canceled. The ACO REACH model, which was announced Feb. 24, is its direct replacement. 

The advocacy group's response to the new pilot program emphasized that ACO REACH does little to improve on the flaws of the former Global and Professional Direct Contracting model. 

"ACO REACH is Direct Contracting in disguise,” said Susan Rogers, MD, an internal medicine physician and president of PNHP. "This new model doubles down on Direct Contracting's fatal flaws, inserting a profit-seeking middleman between beneficiaries and their providers."

Specifically, PNHP continued to allow middlemen the opportunity to keep up to 40 percent of the funds not spent on care as profit, establishing a "dangerous incentive" to limit patient care. 

The organization also raised concerns over Medicare beneficiaries automatically being enrolled in the new model and that there are no limits to what types of companies can participate in the model.

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