Medicare ACO explosion: CMS boasts 570 participants for 2017

More than 570 Medicare accountable care organizations will participate this year in Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service models, including the Shared Savings Program, Next Generation ACO Model and The Comprehensive ESRD Care Model, with 131 in a risk-bearing track.

MSSP added 99 new participants and 79 ACOs renewed their commitment to the program, bringing the total number of MSSP ACOs to 480 across all U.S. states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, according to a CMS announcement. Medicare officials have also revealed a new track under MSSP to begin in 2018, the Medicare ACO Track 1+ Model, that offers lower risk to encourage smaller practices and rural hospitals to participate.

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After three high-profile members left the Next Generation ACO program last year, many questions emerged about the future of the model. However, the agency said that 28 new participants have joined the Next Generation program for 2017, bringing the total to 45 and more than doubling the number in the program.

Atrius Health is among the new participants in the program for 2017, and in an announcement officials at the Boston-region health system said its previous experience in the Pioneer ACO program have prepared it to take on the higher financial risks associated with the Next Generation model.

“Our experience as a Pioneer ACO has enabled us to build upon our strengths in providing high-quality, coordinated care for our patients across the continuum,” CEO Steven Strongwater, M.D., said in the announcement. “CMS has been an excellent partner in this work, and we look forward to further collaboration and innovation with them in the years to come.”

Joe Damore, vice president for population health, Premier, said the growing number of participants is a “clear signal” that the shift to value-based care will continue.

In an emailed statement, Cliff Gaus, CEO and president of The National Association of ACOs, agreed. “We, along with the ACO community, are feeling confident about the future of the program and we’re looking forwarding to seeing the ACO program grow and stabilize in the coming years," he said.