NEVADA CITY, Calif., June 12, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Rural ACO Consortium (NRACO) has announced that Dr. Lionel "Chad" Chadwick has joined as the Chief Operating Officer. Dr. Chadwick, who most recently served as the chief executive of Hi-Desert Memorial Health Care District in Joshua Tree, California, brings 30 years of executive operational and financial experience including rural areas and safety net hospitals in California and Texas. Dr. Chadwick has also been a faculty member of the University of Oregon Health Policy and Administration department and has served on many advocacy organizations serving rural health care providers including the (California) District Hospital Leadership Forum and the Safety Net Institute of the California Association of Public Hospitals.
The NRACO's Founder and Chief Executive Officer Lynn Barr stated, "We are very excited to have Dr. Chadwick joining our executive team. In addition to his breadth of health care management experience, he brings other unique and pertinent knowledge to our organization including important work on physician incentives and experience with rapidly growing organizations such as ours." Barr went on to emphasize that "Dr. Chadwick's first order of business will be to ramp up technical capacity to serve the increased number of ACOs that we will serve in 2015."
The NRACO, which provides management services for rural ACOs nationwide, is poised for significant growth in its second year, which begins in January, 2015. The initial nine communities that comprised the first wholly-rural hospital-based ACO in in the nation are located in Indiana, Michigan and California. Under the leadership of the NRACO, they have collaborated to create a model that is being replicated nationwide.
The organization, which provides technical assistance to rural health care providers in the formation and program management of ACOs, is also emerging as a shared savings partner that is attractive to Medicaid and commercial insurers in rural areas. The NRACO has received letters of intent representing dozens of rural health systems for the establishment of Medicare ACOs, resulting in notices of intent to apply for the 2015 Medicare Shared Savings Program on behalf of 6 ACOs across 8 states in the Midwest, Southwest, and Northwest.
The NRACO's participants include a diverse cross-section of health care providers across the country, including Rural and Critical Access Hospitals, Rural Health Clinics, Federally Qualified Health Centers, and independent physician practices.
The NRACO's innovative strategy is to create "collaborative" ACOs in rural areas that combine several health care organizations to satisfy the minimum 5,000 beneficiary requirement to participate in the Medicare Shared Savings Program. The model permits small rural facilities a cost-effective and practical way to participate in the ACO model, as they overcome cost barriers through economies of scale. Fees charged for participation in the NRACO Consortium in 2015 were only $120,000/year, compared with the national average ACO operating cost of $1.7M/year. Application costs were only $20,000, compared to more than $1M for most ACOs. "This modest expenditure opens the door for rural areas to participate for the first time in advanced payment models, gaining additional reimbursement for improving the care and well-being of their communities," states Barr. "By themselves, none of the NRACO's member communities could have qualified for or afforded to become Accountable Care Organizations."
The vision of the NRACO is to be the national leader of the transformation of rural health care systems from fee-based to value-based care by creating an affordable, replicable framework that results in the best possible health for rural communities, at the lowest possible cost, and strengthens and preserves the rural health safety net.
The application deadline for organizations interested in participating in the 2015 Medicare Shared Savings Program is July 31st, 2014. The NRACO is particularly interested in working with existing networks with a history of collaboration, but can also accommodate single, unaffiliated communities. While the NRACO deadline for expression of interest has passed for 2015, discussions have already begun for 2016.
CONTACT: Lynn Barr
SOURCE National Rural ACO