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Medicare ACOs Not Linked to Lower Hospital Mortality Rates

Hospitals that are part of Medicare accountable care organizations (ACOs) may not have lower death rates for preventable conditions compared with hospitals that aren’t part of these ACOs, an AHRQ-funded study published in the journal Inquiry concluded. ACOs are groups of hospitals, physicians, health professionals and facilities that provide a range of coordinated services for a patient population. They have grown rapidly in recent years, especially Medicare ACOs, which are allowed under the Affordable Care Act. In this study, AHRQ researchers used the Agency’s Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project to analyze 2008-2014 discharge data from 34 states to compare mortality outcomes between Medicare ACOs and hospitals that did not join ACOs. They tracked outcomes for four conditions for which death is considered preventable with high-quality inpatient care: acute myocardial infarction, coronary artery bypass grafting, pneumonia, and abdominal aortic aneurysm repair. Researchers found that Medicare ACO and non-ACO hospitals had similar death rates for all conditions, suggesting that ACOs may not be improving quality across a full range of care needs.

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