HHS announces 89 new ACOs
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Monday that 89 new accountable care organizations (ACOs) have joined the Medicare Shared Savings Program as of July 1.
The 89 new organizations join 27 other ACOs that were announced last April to participate in the Shared Savings Program.
According to HHS, this brings the total number of federally sponsored ACOs to 154, including the 32 ACOs participating in the testing of the Pioneer ACO Model by CMS' Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (Innovation Center) announced last December, and six Physician Group Practice Transition Demonstration organizations that started in January 2011.
In all, as of July 1, more than 2.4 million beneficiaries are receiving care from providers participating in Medicare shared savings initiatives. The newest group of ACOs will serve 1.2 million people with Medicare in 40 states and Washington, D.C., Sebelius said.
“Better coordinated care is good for patients and it saves money,” said Sebelius. “We applaud every one of these doctors, hospitals, health centers and others for working together to ensure millions of people with Medicare get better, more patient-centered, coordinated care.”
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, demonstrating that smaller organizations are interested in operating as ACOs.
Beginning this year, new ACO applications will be accepted annually. The application period for organizations that wish to participate in the program beginning in January 2013 is from Aug. 1 through Sept. 6, 2012.
Blum said the surge in applicants is giving CMS confidence the program will grow. "This is a big program that is going to grow substantially over time," he said in a Monday press conference. He also indicated the program will be unaffected by budget battles in Congress.
CMS is anticipating the Shared Savings Program will save the Medicare Trust fund $940 million over four years, according to Blum.