CMS: Medicare ACOs Have Saved $372 Million

With many eyes on Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and their role in the future of senior care, the The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) shed some light Tuesday on the performances of its Pioneer ACOs to date.

According to quality and financial performance results compiled by CMS, Medicare ACOs have improved patient care and produced hundreds of millions of dollars in savings for the program.

The findings cast a positive light on the Pioneer ACO Model, which has seen 10 ACOs throw in the towel since its inception in favor of other Medicare saving opportunities or drop out of the ACO program altogether.

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ACOs in the Pioneer ACO Model and Medicare Shared Savings Program generated over $372 million in total program savings for Medicare ACOs, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) says, noting the news comes from preliminary quality and financial results from the second year of performance for 23 Pioneer ACOs, and final results from the first year of performance for 220 Shared Savings Program ACOs.

Since Sharp HealthCare, a five-hospital system in San Diego, announced it was leaving the Pioneer ACO program earlier this summer, 22 Pioneer ACOs remain from the original 32.

Overall, ACOs last year had higher quality and better patient experience than published benchmarks, says CMS in a fact sheet released Tuesday. The mean quality score among Pioneer ACOs increased by 19%, from 71.8% in 2012 to 85.2% in 2013, data show.

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“We all have a stake in improving the quality of care we receive, while spending our dollars more wisely,” HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell says in a written statement.  “It’s good for businesses, for our middle class, and for our country’s global competitiveness.”

The news comes as historically slow growth in health care costs is continuing.

Health care prices are rising at their lowest rates in nearly 50 years, Medicare spending per beneficiary is currently falling outright, and employer premiums for family coverage grew just 3% in 2014, tied with 2010 for the lowest on record back to 1999, HHS says.

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Since passage of the Affordable Care Act, more than 360 Medicare ACOs have been established in 47 states, serving over 5.6 million Americans with Medicare.

Written by Cassandra Dowell

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