Using “Big Data” to Better Analyze Accountable Care Organizations Under the Medicare Shared Savings Program
Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), a major component of the Affordable Care Act, seek to provide patients with better quality health care at a lower cost and have been praised for their ability to help repair our country’s broken health care system. Despite their potential benefits, however, ACOs also raise significant antitrust concerns—concerns that may pit consumer surplus and total surplus against one another. In an attempt to address these concerns, the Department of Justice and Fair Trade Commission announced that they will use market share screens and rule of reason treatment to evaluate ACOs participating in the Medicare Shared Savings Program. The use of market share screens and rule of reason treatment allows the antitrust agencies to avoid prioritizing either consumer surplus or total surplus in the first instance but leaves open two critical questions: What will the rule of reason treatment afforded to ACOs look like? And how will the antitrust agencies ultimately determine whether ACOs benefit or harm consumers? In order to address these questions, this Note proposes that the antitrust agencies use the “big data” collected under the Affordable Care Act to conduct a structured rule of reason review of ACOs that takes into account both the consumer surplus and total surplus through a burden-shifting framework.