ACOs: Doctors differ, patients die

By Steve O' Keefe: My Cup of IT
11:13 PM

Earlier this year, the FTC became the latest organization to pile on the Obama administration and join the healthcare reform fray.

It seems that the FTC and the administration don’t see eye to eye when it comes to the anti-trust implications of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). While the White House views ACOs as a consumer benefit, the FTC fears that they could spur further price fixing among already strong healthcare organizations.

The FTC is demonstrating its review muscle, putting some proposed healthcare system mergers under its microscope. The Republicans on Capitol Hill are following suit, convening hearings just this month to probe the possible side effects of healthcare industry consolidation and ACOs under healthcare reform.

When one takes a hard look at the charts – with more than half of states having filed or joined lawsuits challenging the law’s constitutionality, 13 states having passed laws trying to exempt their residents from some provisions, and some states amending their constitutions to outlaw the individual mandate – it becomes clear that the patient – the US healthcare system – won’t be taking a turn for the better anytime soon.

More important, this same legislative and regulatory paralysis takes away any incentive that the healthcare industry has to heal itself – the equivalent of posting an industry-wide DNR notice – thwarting investment – capital, IT, and personnel – and home remedies that could jumpstart resuscitation before it’s too late.

Steve O'Keefe is the founder of MeriTalk, the Government IT Network.