Supporting Every Provider in Delivering Better, More Coordinated, Patient-Centered Care

By Dr. Rick Gilfillan, Director, Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation

This month, 88 new Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) joined the other Medicare Shared Savings Program ACOs that came on line earlier this year.  Now, more than 150 organizations are partnering with Medicare in shared savings initiatives and offering more than 2 million patients better, more coordinated, patient-centered health care.

At the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), we see ACOs as part of the future of health care—part of a broader movement from the old fee-for-service system that simply paid more for more services regardless of the outcome, to one that rewards providers for high-quality, coordinated care. 

Providers also see ACOs as a path to better health care.   During the rulemaking process for the Medicare Shared Savings Program, our agency heard from many small practices who wanted to become ACOs, but needed additional capital to meet the high bar for care coordination required of an ACO.  

We want to make sure that healthcare providers interested in forming ACOs have the opportunity to do so.  That’s why we created the Advance Payment Model—to provide entities such as rural and physician-owned organizations that hope to become ACOs in the Medicare Shared Savings Program with the support they need to invest in staff and in health information technology.  They will repay Medicare through savings they achieve.

Last week, CMS was proud to announce the second group of fifteen Advance Payment ACOs.  These organizations join five Advance Payment ACOs announced earlier this year.  Like their Medicare Shared Savings Program colleagues, they represent communities across America, and are made up of a diverse group of healthcare providers, including independent practice associations that are owned and operated by physicians. 

The interest of these small, independent practices in the ACO model demonstrates that the desire to improve care and lower costs through improvement exists in small practices as well as large health systems.  These providers are committed to improving the health and health care of their patients over the long haul. 

Recently, CMS announced that organizations accepted to the Medicare Shared Savings Program for January, 2013 would also have the opportunity to apply for Advance Payment Model.  At CMS, we’re committed to an ACO program that supports a diverse set of ACOs, allowing groups ranging from health systems to physician-led organizations to partner with us.

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