CMS names latest round of Medicare ACOs

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Jan. 21, 2013

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An additional 106 groups have gained approval to participate in Medicare’s accountable care organization program, officials announced on Jan. 10.

The new crop of ACOs brings the total to more than 250 groups of physicians and facilities partnering to coordinate care for Medicare patients. ACOs must meet quality standards for care and patient safety and are held accountable for controlling costs for beneficiaries under their group. ACOs that achieve overall savings to the program can earn standard bonuses, while organizations that participate in the risk-sharing option could receive larger bonuses or be penalized for not keeping spending in check.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services estimates that nearly $1 billion in savings could be achieved over four years.

The American Medical Association applauded the announcement of the new ACOs, many of which are led by physicians, said AMA President Jeremy A. Lazarus, MD. Fifteen of the new groups will participate in the advance payment model, which offers up-front implementation funding to coordinate patient care and which was an option strongly advocated for by the AMA.

“The AMA remains committed to ensuring that Medicare ACOs are physician-led and offer interested physicians resources to help them form an ACO, including a ‘how-to’ manual,” Dr. Lazarus said. “The AMA has established an Innovators Committee, an advisory group of physicians who guide the development of AMA resources to help physicians enact innovations that improve patient care and maintain a rewarding practice environment.

“The AMA will continue to work with Congress and the administration to eliminate the broken Medicare physician payment formula and move to implement new models, such as ACOs, that can improve value for patients through better care coordination,” he said.

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