The Obama administrative, and especially the Department of Health and Human Services, is pushing the notion of (ACOs) and similar innovative integration strategies to improve the cost-benefit ratio of health care services. This is integral to PPACA ("Obamacare.")
ACOs and other integrated provider networks are to provide 1) better coordination of care and 2) lower cost, perhaps through a bundled payment system. The exact form of these organizations is still evolving.
The Federal Trade Commission appears to be preparing to hammer physicians and hospitals under the assumption ACOs and the like are anti-competitive. This is consistent with pre-PPACA enforcement policies. Reports and lawyer gossip say there is a tug-of-war between the two agencies, with the Justice Department being more sympathetic to the integration.
To be fair, the FTC is supposed to enforce the laws on the books, perhaps we need some clarification from Congress?
A little clarity would speed the integration and further the intent of PPACA, IMHO.