CMS selects 32 final Pioneer ACOs

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today announced the final list of 32 Pioneer Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) to start in the new year. CMS estimates that care coordination between hospitals, physicians and other care givers under the Pioneer ACO model could save Medicare up to $1.1 billion.

Among the list are Banner Health Network in Arizona, Dartmouth-Hitchcock ACO in New Hampshire and Eastern Vermont, Monarch Healthcare in Orange County, Calif., as well as Beth Israel Deaconess Physician Organization, Partners Healthcare and Steward Health Care System, all in Massachusetts. CMS chose 32 out of a pool of competitive applicants through a lengthy and open process, according to CMS.

"Pioneer ACOs are leaders in our work to provide better care and reduce health care costs," said Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "We are excited that so many innovative systems are participating in this exciting initiative - and there are many other ways that health care providers can get involved and help improve care for patients."

As the forerunner to the Medicare Shared Savings Program, the Pioneer ACO model will allow those organizations and individual providers that already are experienced in coordinating care to reap the benefits earlier and more of them. These groups will move more rapidly from a Shared Savings model to a population-based payment model, according to the press release. Differing from the Medicare Shared Savings Program, starting in year three of the initiative, those organizations that have earned savings during the first two years will be eligible to move to a population-based payment arrangement and full risk arrangement that can continue through an optional fourth and fifth year.

"We know that health care providers are at different stages in their work to improve care and reduce costs," said Marilyn Tavenner, acting Administrator of CMS. "That's why we've developed a menu of options for Medicare to meet doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers where they are, and begin the conversation of how to enhance the care they are offering to people with Medicare."

The first performance period of the Pioneer ACO model will start Jan. 1, 2012.

For more information:
- read the press release
- here's the list (.pdf) of final Pioneer ACOs and the descriptions (.pdf)

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