The Impact Of Medicare ACOs On Improving Integration And Coordination Of Physical And Behavioral Health Care
Author: Catherine A. Fullerton, Rachel M. Henke, Erica Crable, Andriana Hohlbauch, Nicholas Cummings
The accountable care organization (ACO) model holds the promise of reducing costs and improving the quality of care by realigning payment incentives to focus on health outcomes instead of service volume. One key to managing the total cost of care is improving care coordination for and treatment of people with behavioral health disorders. We examined qualitative data from ninety organizations participating in Medicare ACO demonstration programs from 2012 through 2015 to determine whether and how they focused on behavioral health care. These ACOs had mixed degrees of engagement in improving behavioral health care for their populations. The biggest challenges included a lack of behavioral health care providers, data availability, and sustainable financing models. Nonetheless, we found substantial interest in integrating behavioral health care into primary care across a majority of the ACOs.