Healthcare organizations ask CMS to expand Next Generation ACOs

A group of 10 healthcare industry organizations is asking the Trump administration to grow the Next Generation Accountable Care Organization (NGACO) model. 

In a letter (PDF), the groups argue Next Generation ACOs have proven successful and should be offered as a permanent, voluntary program beginning in 2021. 

The organizations that signed the letter include the Health Care Transformation Task Force (HCTTF), the Medical Group Management Association, the National Association of ACOs and Premier. 

“Current Next Gen ACOs have proven that this model saves money and improves the quality of care for patients,” Jeff Micklos, executive director of HCTTF, said in a statement. “Models that have been tested and proven to reduce costs and improve quality should be into a permanent option—Medicare's Next Gen ACO program is ready for this step.” 

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The letter notes that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has already taken these steps for the Pioneer ACO program. In addition, it recently made significant changes to the Medicare Shared Savings Program, transforming it into Pathways to Success with the goal of pushing more providers into taking on financial risk.

Expanding NGACO would adhere to that goal while offering an alternative option for organizations looking to enter an advanced payment arrangement, the groups wrote. 

“Creating a permanent NGACO offering, while simultaneously building on its success by further defining Direct Contracting options, will create opportunities for a broad range of providers to enter higher level risk arrangements,” they wrote. 

RELATED: Next Generation ACOs form coalition aimed at advancing the model 

ACOs in the Next Generation program take on greater risk than other types of ACOs and are afforded greater leeway for care coordination in exchange. However, savings in the program were slow to materialize, leading some critics to call for them to be scrapped and a number of providers to ditch the program

However, they have turned a corner and are now saving the Medicare program millions of dollars. In 2016, they accounted for $62 million in savings to Medicare, a report from CMS shows.