A high-profile Medicare experiment pushing doctors and hospitals to join together to operate more efficiently has yet to save the government money, with nearly half of the groups costing more than the government estimated their patients would normally cost, federal records show.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services offers the lure of bonuses to health care practitioners who band together as accountable care organizations, or ACOs, to take care of patients. The financial incentives are intended to encourage these doctors, hospitals, nursing homes and other institutions to keep patients healthy rather than primarily treat illnesses, which is what Medicare payments traditionally have rewarded. ACOs that save a substantial amount get to keep a share of the savings as a bonus.
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