Parts of the Affordable Care Act are being implemented in Southern Arizona, even as federal officials and politicians debate the law and its ramifications.

Physician Arthur Martinez, chief medical officer at Tucson's El Rio Community Health Center, says his agency has been approved as an accountable care organization, known as an ACO, by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

An ACO refers to a group of providers and suppliers of services that work together under the Affordable Care Act.

Martinez explains that one goal of an ACO is to ensure that patients get the right care at the right time, while avoiding unnecessary duplication of services and ensuring the best treatment possible.

“We’re really excited about that,” he says. “It’s really going to put at the forefront patient satisfaction. We need to be very accountable toward patients and how they feel about the healthcare they receive.”

El Rio has been providing services to underserved populations in the greater Tucson area since 1970 and now records more than 300,000 medical visits annually.

Martinez says changes under the Affordable Care Act will help both in delivering high-quality care and ultimately reducing the cost of healthcare.

View an extended conversation with Dr. Arthur Martinez by clicking here.