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HHS announces new rules that will affect Medicare

Posted On Fri, April 1, 2011

Changes are coming for people who receive health insurance through Medicare.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently announced new rules for programs called Accountable Care Organizations. Sebelius says these rule changes will help doctors and hospitals better coordinate care and lower costs at the same time.

"For too long, it has been too difficult for health care providers to work together to coordinate and improve the care their patients receive," Sebelius said. "That has real consequences: patients have gaps in their care, receive duplicative care, or are at increased risk of suffering from medical mistakes." Sebelius went on to say that ACOs should resolve those issues.

ACOs were an original part of President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul, the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law in 2010. The Obama administration recently released guidelines for how doctors and hospitals will share responsibility in providing care for patients.

The implementation of ACOs will not go into effect officially until 2012, but Kaiser Health News reports that hospitals in a number of states have already announced plans about how the program will affect beneficiaries of Medicare, as well as those with private health insurance plans.

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