CMS announces new ACO initiatives

By Diana Manos
10:44 AM

Federal offficials announced Tuesday three new accountable care organization initiatives they say could save Medicare $430 million over the next three years.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) officials said they will launch a new Innovation Center, a pioneer ACO model and new accelerated development learning sessions.

[See also: AHA says start-up costs for ACOs higher than expected.]

CMS Administrator Donald Berwick, MD, said ACOs are key to overhauling the U.S. healthcare system.

"Over and over again, we have seen that improving how care is delivered to patients is key to reducing the growth in healthcare spending," he said. "When we improve the coordination of care between providers, reduce duplication of services, and avoid medical errors, we can get better outcomes for patients at less cost."

According to Berwick, the pioneer model will provide a faster path of development for mature ACOs that have already begun coordinating care for patients and are ready to move forward. The model is designed to work in coordination with private payers to improve care and lower healthcare costs for Medicare beneficiaries.

Berwick said the Innovation Center would release a request for applications (RFA) this week for the pioneer ACO model.

[See also: CHIME calls for second take on ACO plan.]

Richard Gilfillan, MD, director of the Innovation Center said the pioneer model is an opportunity for advanced ACOs "to move further and faster into seamless, coordinated care by utilizing alternative payment mechanisms."

CMS also announced new, free ACO training for providers interested in becoming part of an ACO.  The sessions will begin in June.

CMS has issued a fact sheet on the new initiatives here.

Follow Diana Manos on Twitter @DManos_IT_News.

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