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Medicare says it’s launching a national experiment to improve care for seniors, and, it is hoped, save taxpayers money as well.

Officials announced Monday that 32 networks of doctors and hospitals around the country are becoming Pioneer Accountable Care Organizations, or ACOs.

Behind the acronym is a coordinated approach to medicine so that risks like high blood pressure and elevated blood sugars are managed better and patients get help in leading a healthier lifestyle.

The networks will be eligible for financial rewards if they improve care and lower costs.

About 860,000 of Medicare’s 47 million beneficiaries will be involved in the test. They’ll still be free to go to any doctor.

Officials hope the test will lead to a new model for all of Medicare.

IOWA

GOP worried by hacker threat to caucus vote

IOWA CITY — Taking seriously an apparent threat from a notorious collective of computer hackers, the Iowa Republican Party is boosting the security of the electronic systems it will use in two weeks to count the first votes of the 2012 presidential campaign.

Investigators don’t know if the threat is authentic, but it has nonetheless led the state party to confront a worst-case scenario. Their fear: an Iowa caucus marred by hackers who corrupt the database used to gather votes and crash the website used to inform the public about results that can shape the campaign for the White House.

“With the eyes of the media on the state, the last thing we want to do is have a situation where there is trouble with the reporting system,” said Wes Enos, a member of the Iowa GOP’s central committee and the political director for the campaign of Rep. Michele Bachmann, Minnesota Republican, in the state. “We don’t want that to be the story.”

Confident in the existing safeguards protecting the vote count itself, Mr. Enos and other members of the party central committee told the Associated Press they recently authorized additional security measures aimed at ensuring hackers are unable to delay the release of caucus results.

The state GOP fears such a delay could disrupt the traditional influence of Iowa’s first-in-the-nation vote. Candidates who do well tend to gain momentum in the presidential race, while those finishing at the back of the pack may drop out. Experts in computer security said such concerns are valid.

From wire dispatches and staff reports