Home Health Care Policies: CMS announced 89 new ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations) on Monday Dec 22nd. These ACOs will be joining the Medicare Shared Savings Program, along with several others.
According to CMS:
“With today’s announcement, we will have a total of 405 ACOs participating in the Shared Savings Program next year, serving more than 7.2 million beneficiaries. When combined with the Innovation Center’s 19 Pioneer ACOs, we will have a total of 424 ACOs serving over 7.8 million beneficiaries.”
ACOs were developed with the intention of providing an improvement to the coordination of care for Medicare beneficiaries, as well as some incentives. In short, ACOs are: “groups of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers that work together to give Medicare beneficiaries in Original Medicare (fee-for-service) high quality, coordinated care. ACOs can share in any savings they generate for Medicare, if they meet specified quality targets.”
With these and additionally incentives on the way, ACOs are becoming increasingly popular. The program began in 2012 and has become an increasingly popular option for many healthcare providers. According to CMS, the 89 new ACOs will provide approximately 23,000 additional providers on January 1st. The program is expected to continually grow as more providers opt-in to the program.
CMS has also reported that the existing program has shown exceedingly promising results. According to their research:
“This fall, we released the early findings from the ACOs who started the program in 2012. Shared Savings Program ACOs improved on 30 of the 33 quality measures in the first 2 years, including patients’ ratings of clinicians’ communication, beneficiaries’ rating of their doctors, and screening for high blood pressure. They also outperformed group practices reporting quality on 17 out of 22 measures. We are also seeing promising results on cost savings with combined total program savings of $417 million for the Shared Savings Program and the Pioneer ACO Model. While we are encouraged by what we have seen so far, we also understand there are opportunities to improve the program to make it stronger. Earlier this month, we published a proposed rule to update the guidelines for the program. We are looking forward to receiving comments from ACOs, beneficiaries, and their advocates, providers, and other stakeholders interested in seeing the ACOs succeed long-term.”
The intention of ACOs is to curb Medicare spending while also providing a higher standard of care with better options. Medicare spending has reportedly increased at a rate higher than the GDP expansion, which has led to several reform efforts from Capitol Hill.
“Ultimately, today’s announcement is about delivering better care, spending dollars more wisely, and having healthier people and communities. ACOs drive progress in the way care is provided by improving the coordination and integration of health care, and improving the health of patients with a priority placed on prevention and wellness. We look forward to continuing this partnership with doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers in increasing value and care coordination across the health system.” (CMS.gov)
The newly announced ACO providers are listed here: http://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/sharedsavingsprogram/News.html