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CMS: ACOs Generating Savings, Improving Quality

Medicare accountable care organizations have saved more than $1.29 billion since 2012, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Thursday.

All Medicare ACOs, which number more than 400 including both shared savings program participants and pioneer ACOs, saved a total of $466 million in 2015, the agency said. The administration has sought to enroll more providers in ACOs as part of its goal to tie more medical reimbursements to quality, rather than quantity.

“The coordinated, physician-led care provided by Accountable Care Organizations resulted in better care for over 7.7 million Medicare beneficiaries while also reducing costs,” CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt said in a statement. “I congratulate these leaders and look forward to significant growth in the program in the coming year.”

ACOs are groups of health care providers that choose to work together to develop a coordinated care plan for Medicare patients. CMS hopes to tie 50 percent of all Medicare payments to alternative payment models by 2018.

As organizations participate in ACOs for longer periods of time, their quality improves, said Patrick Conway, CMS’s chief medical officer, on a call with reporters to announce the savings. Participating providers are judged on their performance and improvement by a variety of metrics.

For example, all 12 providers participating in the Pioneer Accountable Care Organization Model have improved their quality scores by more than 21 percentage points from 2012 when the program began through 2015, CMS said. Nine of those organizations had quality scores over 90 percent last year, the agency said.

ACOs participating in the Medicare Shared Savings Program in both 2014 and 2015 improved on 84 percent of the quality measures that were considered both years.

“These results suggest that ACOs are delivering higher quality care to more medicare beneficiaries each year,” Conway told reporters.