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10 more FL medical groups win ACO designation

Ten Florida medical groups totaling almost 1,300 doctors have gained federal designation as "Accountable Care Organizations," which means they are responsible for making sure Medicare patients have easy access to the services they need without duplication and waste.

The 10 groups were among 89 newly designated ACOs announced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Monday. ACOs,  created by the Affordable Care Act.

The total number of Florida doctors involved in the effort, well over 1,000, means that the ACO style of medical practice could now touch hundreds of thousands of Medicare patients in the state.

ACOs are assigned responsibility for making sure that Medicare patients who have been part of their caseload in the past get the care they need -- even if the patients saw other doctors, as well.

Patients keep the right to choose their doctors, even if they are part of an ACO practice, so it's up to the ACO to attract and keep those patients.

Many do that by setting up friendly "medical homes," in which primary-care doctors function as quarterbacks for a team of health professionals who keep tabs on patients and monitor them for chronic health problems. The theory is that coordinating care saves money and produces better results.

If an ACO's patients have good health outcomes, the practice shares any savings with federal taxpayers.

Hospitals and other types of health-care providers can serve as sponsors or participants in ACOs, but nearly all the Florida designees appear to be groups of doctors.
The designated groups stretch from Pensacola to Jacksonville in north Florida to Boynton Beach and West Palm Beach in south Florida. The two in North Florida will serve patients in Georgia and Alabama as well as in Florida. Here is the list:

--Accountable Care Coalition of Northwest Florida, LLC, in Pensacola, 60 physicians.

--Accountable Care Partners, LLC, in Jacksonville, 65 physicians.  

--Allcare Options, LLC, in Manatee County, 198 physicians.

--Florida Medical Clinic ACO, LLC, in Zephyrhills, 153 physicians. 

--FPG Healthcare, LLC, in Orlando, 142 physicians.

--HealthNet LLC, in Boynton Beach, 55 physicians.

--Integrated Care Alliance, LLC, in Gainesville, 115 physicians.

--Medical Practitioners for Affordable Care, LLC, in Melbourne, 126 physicians. 

--Palm Beach Accountable Care Organization, LLC, in West Palm Beach, 337 physicians.

--Reliance Healthcare Management Solutions, LLC, in Tampa, 36 physicians.

More information on ACOs is available atthis CMS website.

--Health News Florida is an independent online publication dedicated to journalism in the public interest. Contact Editor Carol Gentry at 727-410-3266 or by e-mail.

Carol Gentry, founder and special correspondent of Health News Florida, has four decades of experience covering health finance and policy, with an emphasis on consumer education and protection.