The healthcare and financial industries alike are still scratching their heads over the acquisition of HealthCare Partners by DaVita, the nation's second-largest dialysis provider for patients with chronic kidney disease. As noted in a previous HealthLeaders-InterStudy blog, the $4.42 billion deal to purchase HealthCare Partners is so large and strategic that it may prove to be a harbinger of a new day in the provider world.

What might that day look like? Think about accountable care organizations and consider the following:

  • As the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services was formulating its ACO regulations, DaVita lobbied hard for a renal-specific ACO or at least for a framework that would allow for a disease-specific approach. In acquiring HealthCare Partners, DaVita has essentially bought its way into an ACO. HCP was named a Pioneer ACO in December.
  • Reporting by FierceHealthcare that the merger creates an ACO is a bit premature. But DaVita has remained active in its renal ACO advocacy even after the final CMS regulations came out.
  • According to Robert Provenzano, M.D. vice president of medical affairs at DaVita the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation is considering a next-generation end-stage rental disease demonstration. DaVita participated in one of CMS's previous ESRD demonstrations. Provenzano hopes a new ESRD demonstration will lead to stand-alone payment models for nephrologists and dialysis providers.

DaVita's strategic plans also include the expansion of the HealthCare Partners merger to include smaller, integrated care contracts in markets beyond HCP's current reach of California, Florida and Nevada (Wall Street Journal).

The reasons why the DaVita-HealthCare Partners merger makes sense will continue to play out over the coming weeks and months, and will have far-reaching implications for the concept of disease-specific ACOs around the country.

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