CMS offers new IT investments for ACOs

$114 million in funding for better care coordination in underserved areas
By Mike Miliard
11:00 AM

In a bid to drive better quality, wider access and improved care coordination through health IT, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has launched a new investment initiative for accountable care organizations taking part in the Medicare Shared Savings Program.

[See also: ACOs held back by poor interoperability]

The new ACO Investment Model is designed to help better coordinate care to rural and underserved areas, offering up to $114 million in upfront investments to as many as 75 ACOs nationwide, officials say.

"The ACO Investment Model will give Medicare accountable care organizations more flexibility in setting quality and financial goals, while giving them greater accountability for delivering quality care efficiently," said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, in a press statement."We are working with these organizations to make necessary investments that encourage doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers to work together to better coordinate care and keep people healthy," she said.

[See also: Care coordination's day in the sun]

The initiative, directed through the CMS Innovation Center, will offer up-front investments for infrastructure and redesigned care processes to help eligible ACOs in delivering higher-quality care.

The goal, say CMS officials, is to help more people, irrespective of where they live, benefit from Medicare ACOs.

CMS will recover these payments through an offset of an ACO’s earned shared savings, officials say. Eligibility is targeted to ACOs that joined MSSP in 2012, 2013, 2014 and to new ACOs joining in 2016.

The application deadline for organizations that started in the Shared Savings Program in 2012 or 2013 will be Dec.1, 2014. Applications will be available in the Summer of 2015 for ACOs that started in the Shared Savings Program in 2014 or will start in 2016.

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