Cohen in JAMA: The looming threat of liability for accountable care organizations

Professor I. Glenn Cohen '03

Professor I. Glenn Cohen ’03

“The Looming Threat of Liability for Accountable Care Organizations and What to Do About It,” a new article by Harvard Law School Assistant Professor I. Glenn Cohen ’03 and Dr. H. Benjamin Harvey ’09, was published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“The promotion of accountable care organizations (ACOs), a new health care delivery and payment model designed to curb rising medical costs while improving quality, is one of the most important elements of the Affordable Care Act,” write the authors. “Hundreds of health systems across the country have already adopted the ACO model and in so doing have taken on a new role of cost containment. What may be less clear to them is that they are taking on new liability risks.”

The authors discuss how the lack of an Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) shield of the kind enjoyed by Managed Care Organizations will impact the liability environment ACOs will face. They also discuss “self-help” remedies available to ACOs as well as potential congressional intervention to deal with these issues.

Read the full article on the JAMA website.

Harvey is a clinical fellow in radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Cohen, a leading expert on the intersection of health care, bioethics and the law, received tenure this spring, effective July 1. He has served as an assistant professor since 2008 and as co-director of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics since 2009. His writing has appeared in leading journals in the fields of of law, medicine, bioethics, and public health. The latest issue of the Harvard Law Bulletin featured his work on medical tourism.