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Meritus Health Becoming an Accountable Care Organization

"What the patient will actually see is more involvement with their physician, more involvement with a health care team that is directed to help the patient improve the patient's care," said Dr. Robert Cirincione with the Tristate Health Partners-Meritus Health ACO.
HAGERSTOWN, Md. - The Affordable Care Act is making health care changes nationwide. One change that's coming to Washington County will make Meritus Health an Accountable Care Organization. That change could help 16,000 area Medicare patients and local health official say this patient-centered health care model could help hospitals cut costs.

"Our goal in the ACO is to improve the patient's care experience, functioning with their doctor, their hospital, from the patient's perspective and then taking a look at controlling cost," said Dr. Robert Cirincione, with the Tristate Health Partners-Meritus Health ACO.

It's a partnership between Tristate Health Partners and Meritus Health working with 150 primary care doctors and specialists potentially serving 16,000 Medicare patients.

"What the patient will actually see is more involvement with their physician, more involvement with a health care team that is directed to help the patient improve the patient's care," said Dr. Cirincione

The ACO isn't limited to Washington County and for Medicare patients, there's no cost for joining.

"From a Medicare beneficiaries point of view nothing changes. If you're in the ACO, you'll see hopefully benefits of improved quality, physician engagement," said Dr. Cirincione. "If you're not, you'll still see, you'll still have access to the same doctors, hospitals, so nothing really changes."

Officials say any futures savings would be split with Medicare and then filtered back to the hospital. But their main focus is their patients.

"If all of us in health care can try to do things to try to control cost and reduce cost we're all going to benefit as a community, as a country. It's quality and then trying to control cost," said Dr. Cirincione.

Officials say the Tristate Health Partners-Meritus Health ACO should be approved in a month and then Medicare will notify those patients about the program.
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