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Key group now backs Obama's Medicare quality plan

By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar
Associated Press / October 28, 2011

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WASHINGTON—An influential medical group's change of heart is boosting President Barack Obama's plan to use Medicare to promote higher quality, less expensive care.

The American Medical Group Association represents premier organizations like the Mayo Clinic, the models for the proposed "accountable care organizations" in Obama's health care overhaul law. The networks of doctors and hospitals will collaborate to keep patients healthier.

Just a few months ago, the group said the administration's initial plan was too complex to work.

But in a letter to Medicare chief Don Berwick released Friday, the group said significant revisions changed the final blueprint for the better, and now it warrants serious consideration.

Medicare starts accepting applications in January from groups of hospitals and doctors interested in forming accountable care organizations.