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Affordable Care Act

UnitedHealthCare Announces Deal That Could Affect 20,000 In Central FL

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From left to right: U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, Dr. Sandeep Bajaj, founder and CEO of F Accountable Care Services, and David Lewis, CEO of UnitedHealthcare of Central and North Florida.

Health insurer UnitedHealthcare will partner with a local doctor’s group in a move they say will lower health care costs.

The move could affect more than 20,000 people in central Florida. Accountable Care Organizations, or ACOs, were created by the Affordable Care Act, and the idea was simple: If doctors can prove they can save money without sacrificing the quality of the care, the government will give them a cut of the savings.

Starting this April, UnitedHealthcare will partner with Florida Accountable Care Services to see if their successful ACO could work for more than 20,000 central Floridians with private insurance.

“We’re learning good lessons from what these physicians have been able to successfully accomplish in the Medicare arena, and transition that into the employer-sponsored side of our business,” said David Lewis, CEO of UnitedHealthcare of Central and North Florida. “There is a lot of low-hanging fruit in the system, OK? Our health care economic infrastructure is such that the sicker people are, the more money gets spent in the community.”

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson was on hand for a ribbon-cutting Monday at a new urgent care center that will be used by the group. Nelson said the new venture will put a focus on the quality of care and outcomes for patients.

“Instead of the quantity of care, where the patient would go to this doctor and get one test, this doctor, maybe get the same test, another, another, and nobody coordinated with each other,” Nelson said.

Florida Accountable Care Services says it saved the federal government $15 million dollars by streamlining care.

“We are excited to partner with UnitedHealthcare to apply our expertise in health care innovation and patient-centered programs to improve the health of their plan participants and advance toward overall population health management,” said Dr. Sandeep Bajaj, founder and CEO of FACS, in a statement. “Together, we expect to achieve even better health outcomes and improve patient satisfaction, while reducing the overall cost of care.”

Reporter Abe Aboraya is part of WMFE in Orlando. Health News Florida receives support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.