On Dec. 22, Sean Cavanaugh, deputy administrator and director at the Center for Medicare, a division of the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), announced via The CMS Blog that a large number of new accountable care organizations (ACOs) are organizing to become part of the Medicare Shared Savings Program for ACOs in 2015.
As Cavanaugh wrote in The CMS Blog, “Today, we at CMS are excited to announce that 89 new Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) will be joining the Medicare Shared Savings Program. 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.”
Cavanaugh, in his blog-announcement, went on to say that “We are starting to see promising results. 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 firest two 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.”
The good news about 89 new ACOs joining the MSSP comes at a critical juncture in the history of both federal ACO programs. A number of organizations have left the Pioneer ACO Program, dropping the participation in the program from 32 ACOs down to 19, as of late September; what’s more, the National Association of ACOs (NAACOS) on Nov. 3 announced the results of a survey of its members, which found that two out of three MSSP ACOs were “highly unlikely or somewhat unlikely” to remain in the MSSP.