CMS to expand Pioneer ACO program

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services encouraged by $384M in savings
By Bernie Monegain
10:54 AM

Just couple years after what appeared to be a rocky start for Pioneer accountable care organizations, with some ACOs struggling and others dropping out of the program, a new report from CMS shows that the program has saved Medicare a cool $384 million. Moreover, CMS now plans to expand the initiative.

[See also: Pioneer ACO: An endurance race many quit.]

"It’s a challenging program," Ken Perez, director of healthcare policy at MedeAnalytics, told Healthcare IT News in July 2013. The Pioneer model, he said, "just doesn’t generate the quick hits, the quick returns that folks would really like to have. And when you’re financially strapped and mentally discouraged from not seeing big changes, patience is a virtue that’s very difficult to attain."

But several of the pioneers apparently had the fortitude to stick to the program and effect the changes they set out to make.

"The Pioneer ACO Model has demonstrated that patients can get high quality and coordinated care at the right time, and we can generate savings for Medicare and the health care system at large," said HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell in a statement.

Healthcare Finance News Managing Editor Henry Powderly puts the news in perspective and elaborates on what CMS has planned next, sharing the full report on how the program has fared to date. Read his article here and see a map tracking Pioneer ACO performance here.