On Tuesday, CalPERS announced that its accountable care organization pilot program is yielding positive results and likely will contribute to about $15.5 million in health care savings, the San Francisco Business Times reports (Rauber, San Francisco Business Times, 4/12).
The federal health reform law mandates the creation of ACOs, which aim to lower costs and improve care by fostering cooperation between physicians, hospitals and other health care providers. The overhaul requires federal health programs to begin contracting with ACOs starting in January 2012 (California Healthline, 4/11).
Background on ACO Pilot
CalPERS launched the ACO pilot in January 2010 in partnership with Blue Shield of California, Catholic Healthcare West and Hill Physicians Medical Group.
The two-year program involves 41,000 CalPERS members in El Dorado, Placer and Sacramento counties who are enrolled in Blue Shield HMOs (San Francisco Business Times, 4/12).
Early Results of the Program
According to CalPERS, between January 2010 and October 2010, the ACO pilot helped contribute to:
- A 50% reduction in the number of patients hospitalized for 20 days or more;
- A 17% reduction in hospital readmissions;
- A 14% reduction in total inpatient days; and
- A half-day reduction in the average length of inpatient hospital stays (Vesely, Modern Healthcare, 4/12).
As a result of the positive patient outcomes, CalPERS said it expects to expand the pilot ACO program for Blue Shield enrollees.
Kathleen Billingsley -- CalPERS' assistant executive officer for health benefits -- said, "We cannot overstate the importance of coordinated care, and we are encouraged about expanding this model to other areas" (San Francisco Business Times, 4/12).