So What’s with the [ACO] Bundled Payment Thing?

By Gregg A. Masters, MPH

It’s interesting to note the more ‘things change’, the more they ‘[seem] to stay the same?’ Let me explain….

In a recent observation by Rob Lazerow featured in the post ‘How Are ACOs Doing‘ the Advisory Board Senior Consultant dubs 2013 as the ‘year of accountable care’. He then goes on to highlight the ‘bundled payment’ program as the center of gravity in ACO market movement since:

It has nearly twice as many provider organizations compared to those participating in the shared savings program. It represents a big spike in experimentation.

Yet, Rob’s newfound gestalt may seem like a bit of back tracking from his previous sentiment as noted earlier via ‘Bundled Payment: A Gateway to Accountable Care? where I engaged him on the subject and value proposition of bundled payment to the ACO movement and holy grail of the triple aim.

So the ‘stay the same’ angle here is more about the herd movement into or out of popular thinking (perhaps even superficial) around ACO strategic issues vs. the granular basing of what we know works, and their real world impediments to local market implementation.

For instance, quite some time ago I penned the following provocative title: ‘Bundled Payment? Lets Start with the ‘RAPERs!’ Unfortunately, I was dead serious then and remain so today, however this bit of granular insight was a tad more than the market wanted to consider then. It received little if any attention and/or discussion, yet it goes to the fundamentals of our ‘healthcare cost conundrum‘. Might it’s reception be different today? Are we really ready to tackle the issues, or will we be content to just keep talking and meeting, with little to nothing changing? We shall see.


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