89 new ACOs join Medicare Shared Savings Program

Eighty-nine new accountable care organizations (ACOs) will join the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced in a blog post this week.

The new ACOs will bring the total participating in the MSSP to 405 next year, according to Center for Medicare Deputy Administrator Sean Cavanaugh, with more than 7.2 million beneficiaries. It also adds 23,000 new providers in the program, according to the post, in addition to the roughly17,000 new providers that joined the MSSP in 2014.

The announcement follows what Cavanaugh calls "promising results" for MSSP ACOs. This year, MSSP ACOs improved on 30 of 33 quality measures. These measures included screening for high blood pressure, patient satisfaction with clinicians' communication and overall doctor ratings among beneficiaries.

"Ultimately, today's announcement is about delivering better care, spending dollars more wisely, and having healthier people and communities. ACOs drive progress in the way care is provided by improving the coordination and integration of healthcare, and improving the health of patients with a priority placed on prevention and wellness," Cavanaugh wrote. "We look forward to continuing this partnership with doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers in increasing value and care coordination across the health system."

The announcement comes in the wake of the release of CMS'  proposed rule in early December that would give MSSP ACOs a three-year reprieve before they receive penalities for failure to meet  performance measures. This proposal would also offer a new "Track 3" risk model, in which ACOs take on increased risk to generate greater savings and allow members to keep up to three quarters of the money they save Medicare, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

However, Paul Keckley, managing director of the Navigant Center for Healthcare Research and Policy Analysis, told FierceHealthcare the proposed rule does not go far enough. CMS has not addressed "the concerns of many of the ACOs to comply with the rules and report the quality measures," which will ultimately cost the ACOs more than they save, he said.

To learn more:
- read the blog post