The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) has saved a net $1.8 billion in 2022 for accountable care organizations, which is the second-highest annual savings since the program began 10 years ago.

It is also the sixth consecutive year the program has generated savings, according to a news release. In 2021, CMS said it saved Medicare $1.66 billion.

“Just last month, we proposed ways to further grow and expand this successful program, especially in rural and other underserved communities,” said Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. “The Biden-Harris Administration will continue to do everything we can to strengthen Medicare and ensure everyone can access high-quality, affordable health care.” 

“The MSSP helps millions of people with Medicare experience coordinated health care while also reducing costs for the Medicare program,” CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure added in a statement. “CMS will continue to improve the program, and it is exciting to see that Accountable Care Organizations are continuing to be successful in delivering coordinated, high-quality, affordable, equitable, person-centered care.” 

ACOs are groups of doctors, hospitals and other providers who deliver care to people on Medicare. ACOs can share savings, otherwise known as performance payments, with the Medicare program. Patients then see lower out-of-pocket costs for emergency room visits.

ACO leaders praised the program Thursday, calling the MSSP a success for all parties.

“Since its inception, Aledade has brought in more than $650 million in savings directly to community primary care practices and generated $1.2 billion in Medicare shared savings,” said Aledade CEO Farzad Mostashari, M.D., in a statement. “As a result, physician practices working with us have been able to address workforce shortages, develop new programs for patient outreach and care, and identify new solutions to serve their communities.”

“APG welcomes today’s announcement by CMS that the MSSP has again generated large savings for the Medicare program while simultaneously providing high-quality care to millions of older adults,” said Susan Dentzer, APG president and CEO. “These important results for 2022 underscore the fact that the ACOs that scored the highest per capita savings have been led by physicians. We salute our APG members who were among these high MSSP performers.

In 2022, there were $2.52 billion in total earned performance payments, and 63% of ACOs participated in shared savings. Low revenue ACOs had $140 per capita net savings and are comprised of 75% primary care clinicians.

The National Association of ACOs in a press release said the data show Congress must keep encouraging participation in ACOs by extending incentive payments. The organization supports the Value in Health Care Act that extends incentives set to expire by year-end. In the last decade, ACOs have generated more than $21 billion in gross savings for Medicare.

CMS said that ACOs have a higher average performance on quality measures they are required to report than clinician groups not in the program.

A proposed fee schedule from July included updates to MSSP that promote participate among providers in rural and underserved areas. It called for increasing the number of nurse practitioners, physician assistants and clinical nurse specialists as well as adding more high-cost beneficiaries to the program. Public comments for the proposal are due Sept. 11.