As of July 1, 89 new Accountable Care Organizations began serving 1.2 million Medicare beneficiaries in 40 states and Washington, D.C., according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
ACOs are organizations formed by groups of healthcare providers that have agreed to work together to coordinate care for Medicare beneficiaries. The 89 new ACOs have entered into agreements with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, taking responsibility for the quality of care they provide to people with Medicare in return for the opportunity to share in savings realized through high-quality, well-coordinated care.
Participation in an ACO, as established by the Affordable Care Act, is strictly voluntary for providers. Federal savings from this initiative could be up to $940 million over four years.
The 89 ACOs bring the total number of organizations participating in Medicare shared savings initiatives to 154. In all, more than 2.4 million beneficiaries are receiving care from providers participating in Medicare shared savings initiatives.
The selected ACOs operate in a wide range of areas of the country, and almost half are physician-driven organizations serving fewer than 10,000 beneficiaries. Their models for coordinating care and improving quality vary in response to the needs of the beneficiaries in the areas they serve.
To ensure that savings are achieved through improving care coordination and providing care that is appropriate, safe and timely, an ACO must meet quality standards. For 2012, CMS has established 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.
Beginning this year, new ACO applications will be accepted annually. An application period takes place Aug. 1-Sept. 6 for organizations that wish to participate in the Medicare shared savings program beginning in January 2013. More information, including application requirements, is available at http://go.cms.gov/MjVhnv.
To learn more about the ACOs announced Monday, visit http://go.cms.gov/LbloNA.