ACOs Now Total 154

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reports, as of July 1, the addition of 89 new, approved Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), bringing the total number of these new health care delivery systems to 154, covering 2.4 million beneficiaries.

The ACO model is formed by groups of doctors and other health providers who have agreed to work together to coordinate care for people with Medicare. According to CMS, those participating in an ACO agree to take responsibility for the quality of care they provide in return for the opportunity to share in savings realized through high-quality, well-coordinated care.

The program is voluntary, but can provide a payback. Federal savings from the initiative, which will be shared with successful ACOs, is expected to be $940 billion over four years. The Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) and other initiatives related to ACOs are a result of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

To ensure that savings are achieved through improving care coordination and providing care that is appropriate, safe, and timely, an ACO must meet 33 quality measures relating to care coordination and patient safety, appropriate use of preventive health services, improved care for at-risk populations, and patient and caregiver experience of care.

The selected ACOs operate in a wide range of areas across the country and almost half are physician-driven organizations serving fewer than 10,000 beneficiaries, CMS said.  Their models for coordinating care and improving quality vary in response to the needs of the beneficiaries in the areas they are serving.

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