CMS adding 89 new ACOs

CMS yesterday announced that 89 new accountable care organizations were formed to join the Shared Savings Programs, bringing the total of such ACOs to 405 that serve more than 7.2 million patients. In 2014, existing Shared Savings Program ACOs added almost 17,000 healthcare providers, and the 89 new ACOs will bring approximately 23,000 additional physicians […]

CMS yesterday announced that 89 new accountable care organizations were formed to join the Shared Savings Programs, bringing the total of such ACOs to 405 that serve more than 7.2 million patients.

In 2014, existing Shared Savings Program ACOs added almost 17,000 healthcare providers, and the 89 new ACOs will bring approximately 23,000 additional physicians and other providers into the ACO program starting Jan. 1, the agency said.

Sean Cavanaugh, deputy administrator and director for CMS, said the results so far are promising.

“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,” he wrote in a blog post. “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.”

Still, CMS acknowledged concerns from providers and payers that the rules are perhaps too rigid to sustain interest. As such, it recently proposed new rules that offer more flexibility for newly formed ACOs.

“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,” Cavanugh said.