NAACOS launches new task force to help doctors with new CMS payment models

The National Association of Accountable Care Organizations (NAACOS) today launched a new taskforce to help doctors and hospitals understand and prepare for new value-based payment models.

The nonprofit organization, which represents hundreds of organizations participating in new payment and delivery models, announced the formation of its direct contracting task force that will offer tools to providers to assess and participate in the latest accountable care model from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

CMS announced the new primary care alternative payment models last April and last month announced it is now accepting applications for the new program it calls “Direct Contracting.” Offered by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), the program will test an array of financial risk-sharing arrangements.

“As the accountable care movement grows and evolves, so too must NAACOS. We are embracing new population health-focused payment and delivery models like Direct Contracting,” said Clif Gaus, NAACOS president and CEO. “Our task force will help drive participation and ensure Direct Contracting will be the next in a growing line of successful accountable care models.” 

It is the CMS Innovation Center’s next prominent accountable care model that will make groups of doctors, hospitals and other providers responsible for patients’ total cost of care throughout the year, NAACOS said.

CMS has extended its deadline to submit a letter of intent for the new Direct Contracting model until midnight tonight. The letter must be submitted in order to later submit an application.

Providers that want to participate in an “implementation period,” which allows them to use the initial year to align beneficiaries, can apply now until February 24. Organizations that want to start in the first performance period beginning January 2021 will be able to apply in spring 2020.

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Direct Contracting is viewed as a successor to the Next Generation ACO Model, which will end in 2020, providing opportunities for new entrants and additional tools for providers interested in taking on higher levels of risk for greater rewards. CMS has said Directing Contracting will provide an opportunity to participate for providers that had not been eligible under previous Medicare Accountable Care Organization (ACO) initiatives, such as the Medicare Shared Savings Program and the Next Generation model.

NAACOS will offer complimentary access to the taskforce for those who are not members of its organization but who are interested in learning more about the model.

The new task force will also create a line of communication to CMS in advocating for changes in new payment models, NAACOS said.

RELATED: Healthcare organizations ask CMS to expand Next Generation ACOs

It plans to produce webinars and resources that analyze key details and aspects of the program, provide advocacy to shape the model, house key resources on a standalone webpage, hold in-person conference sessions, and provide a dedicated listserv to engage with peers about the model, the group said.

The task force will host a December 13 webinar to review key details of the model, discuss key considerations and implications for ACOs, collect feedback and answer questions. 

The task force will be led by NAACOS staff and industry leaders, including Pam Halvorson, lead executive for operations at UnityPoint Accountable Care in Iowa; Allison Brennan, NAACOS senior vice president of government affairs; and Dave Ault, NAACOS consultant, former division director at the Innovation Center and counsel at Faegre Baker Daniels.

“Shared learnings and collective advocacy through NAACOS and this new taskforce should prove to be a powerful resource for Direct Contracting participants,” Halvorson said.