Walgreen Co. executive Jeffrey Kang has been named to the board of directors at the National Association of ACOs (NAACOS), a newly formed group representing over 60 accountable care organizations.

National Association of ACOs, NAACOS, Jeffrey Kang, Walgreens, accountable care organizations, Mike Barrett, Heritage California ACO, Clif Gaus, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, CMS, National Community Pharmacists Association, National Association of Chain Drug Stores, community pharmacy, NCPA, NACDS, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, ACO models

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Walgreens exec on board of new ACO group

February 12th, 2013

WASHINGTON – Walgreen Co. executive Jeffrey Kang has been named to the board of directors at the National Association of ACOs (NAACOS), a newly formed group representing over 60 accountable care organizations.

NAACOS includes ACOs from more than 15 states and by April is expected to exceed 100 ACOs, representing over 2 million Medicare assigned beneficiaries.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has recognized 258 organizations as ACOs, and private insurance plans are working with many other ACOs in cities nationwide, according to NAACOS.

"This is a natural evolution of what was an informal network of ACO executives recognizing the need for the ACO industry to have its voice clearly and consistently at the table as regulations and program rules are developed by CMS and the states," stated Heritage California ACO's Mike Barrett, chairman of NAACOS, whose formation was announced Friday. "Equally important is providing a forum for a peer-to-peer exchange of effective and efficient solutions to the myriad of operational challenges."

ACOs are groups of doctors and other health care providers that coordinate care and take responsibility for the cost and quality of care for a specific population of patients.

NAACOS outlined its mission as fostering growth of accountable care models of care;
promoting industrywide uniformity on quality and performance measures; providing peer-to-peer learning experiences; highlighting clinical and operational best practices;
engaging the vendor community; and educating the public about the value of accountable care.

"It is phenomenal that this many ACOs could come together in a matter of 8 weeks to form such an important organization," stated Clif Gaus, president and chief executive officer of NAACOS.

Last month, Walgreens announced that Advocare Walgreens Well Network (New Jersey), Diagnostic Clinic Walgreens Well Network (Florida) and Scott & White Walgreens Well Network (Texas) were three of 106 new Medicare ACOs announced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Kang, who serves as senior vice president of pharmacy, health and wellness services and solutions at Walgreens, is listed as the ACO executive for each of the three Walgreens ACOs.

The community pharmacy sector is seeking to play a bigger role in the ACO arena. Last week, the National Community Pharmacists Association and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores urged the federal government to expand pharmacist participation in ACOs.

In a letter to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, NCPA and NACDS called on the agency to use its authority under the Social Security Act to widen the role of pharmacists in new ACO models, community-based transitions of care and bundled payment initiatives. The associations noted that current Medicare law doesn't recognize pharmacists as providers, potentially limiting their participation in new health care models.

NAACOS said it's being governed by an interim board until a permanent board iselected in June. The association plans to hold its first national conference and membership meeting in Baltimore on March 19 to 21. Attendees will hear from CMS leadership on ACO programs and Medicare's quality reporting and improvement programs and have the opportunity to learn from one and other in peer-to-peer exchanges and breakout sessions.