This article seeks to examine the conflict between non-cost-conscious medical malpractice liability standards and health care cost cutting measures within the context of Accountable Care Organizations ("ACOs") under the new health care reform law. This article begins by providing an overview of the high level of health care spending within the United States health care system in order to provide a context for better understanding policymakers' push for cost cutting measures, including ACOs. This article then examines the tension between cost containment efforts and medical liability standards through an examination of the "stuck in the middle" mentality that physicians face when they are forced to meet both liability standards that do not take into account cost concerns and cost cutting standards imposed by or through managed care organizations, pay-for-performance programs and consumer-driven healthcare. This article then introduces the concept of the ACO and describes elements of the ACOs envisioned under the new health care reform legislation. This article concludes by examining and analyzing whether and how ACOs will exacerbate the cost containment/liability standard tension, and how that tension may impact the effectiveness of ACOs.

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