Todd Smith: Unaccountable care organizations

By Todd Smith | The Caledonian Record

On Oct. 1, One Care Vermont asked the Green Mountain Care Board to OK its $1.36 billion budget request for 2020. The state’s lone accountable care organization says it needs 33 percent more money next year than it had this year.

Todd Smith

Todd M. Smith is the publisher of the Caledonian Record.

More money, the group says, will lower health care spending in the long run through expanded preventative care efforts. It wants to claw that dough from Medicare, Medicaid, private insurers and hospitals.

There’s only one enormous problem. Last week VTDigger presented a report from Vermont Auditor Doug Hoffer that said One Care isn’t tracking any of the “community-based initiatives it promised to fund.” Without any data, it has no clue if anything it does actually works.

The thrust of One Care’s promise is to promote healthy lifestyles into Vermont communities, thereby lowering health care costs. According to Hoffer’s report, however, it also didn’t do that very well (or at all in many instances).

“The auditor’s office found that there was no evidence that OneCare had done some of the projects they had described in their budget earlier that year,” Digger reports.

Now One Care wants a 33% budget increase to neither provide services it promised nor to track outcomes on said programs. In One Care’s defense, it’s not easy to track data on services they aren’t providing in the first place.

So Vermont’s first billion dollar accountable care organization is already looking pretty unaccountable.

For our part, we try to eat right and exercise — the two things One Care wants us to do. When you pay attention to health care reform efforts in Vermont, unfortunately, you’re almost certain to develop neck and spine problems from shaking your head.

Todd M. Smith is the publisher of the Caledonian Record, where this editorial first appeared. He lives in St. Johnsbury.

Image courtesy of Todd Smith