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Medicare announces 106 new accountable care organizations

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced the creation of 106 more accountable care organizations Thursday. Among them were nine groups based in Massachusetts or with some operations here, including organizations affiliated with Metro West Medical Center, Baystate Health, Lahey Health, Winchester Hospital, and Cambridge Health Alliance.

Created under the Affordable Care Act, the program pushes doctors and hospitals to collaborate “to give people with Medicare the high-quality care they expect and deserve” and to save money for the government program that provides coverage for the elderly and disabled, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a press release.

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The first accountable care organizations in Massachusetts were named in December 2011, and those early “Pioneer” organizations have been working to implement the program. Callum Borchers of the Globe staff wrote about the efforts of providers affiliated with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center this week.

The model gives doctors and hospitals a spending target for patient care and allows them to keep some of the savings if they come in under budget. Eventually, they also will be penalized if they spend too much. The organizations must meet certain health care quality standards.

The idea is that, with a stake in the finances, providers will find ways to avoid needless spending -- such as repeated diagnostic tests -- and will focus on preventive care.

Chelsea Conaboy can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @cconaboy.
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