An Accountable Care Organization (ACO), is an organization of health care providers that agrees to be accountable for the quality, cost, and overall care of Medicare beneficiaries who are enrolled in the traditional fee-for-service program who are assigned to it. APTA argues that PTs should be included in the ACO model in order to continue quality of care throughout different treatment settings.

For an accountable care organization (ACO) model to be successful, it will be essential that physical therapists and other health care professionals and providers be included as part of the model, APTA said in comments recently submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). “The success of the ACO model in fostering clinical excellence while effectively managing costs will hinge on its ability to have a broad spectrum of physicians, health care professionals, and other providers form linkages to facilitate the coordination of care delivery throughout different settings,” the association said. In addition to post-acute care facilities, it would be important for small physical therapy private practices to have the opportunity to participate in the ACO models, APTA added. In addition, the association called on CMS to establish regulations that require services furnished by ACOs be provided by qualified personnel. “An evaluation of the need for physical therapy and the establishment of the therapy plan of care should be performed by a physical therapist. The independent clinical decision making of the physical therapist should also be recognized within the ACO.”