By Jonathan Blum, Acting Principal Deputy Administrator and Director, Center for Medicare

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is pleased to announce the latest group of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) participating in the Medicare Shared Savings program.  This is the third group since the Medicare Shared Savings program was launched over a year ago.


ACOs are groups of doctors and other health care providers that have agreed to work together to treat individual patients across care settings.  They share—with Medicare—any savings generated from lowering health care costs while meeting standards for quality of care and providing patient-centered care.


If you have one of these new ACOs in your area, it means that physicians will work together as a team to better share information and coordinate your treatment. 


ACOs are just one of a host of Affordable Care Act provisions that improve Medicare—for example, when you go home from the hospital, you’ll get the care you need to reduce the risk of going back to the hospital.  All of these are designed to increase the value of health care services and they were all put in place by the Affordable Care Act. 


Across the country, 106 new Medicare Shared Savings Program ACOs began operation in January.  They’re located in 47 states and territories—from the most remote community in Montana to as far away as Puerto Rico. 


Roughly half of all Medicare Shared Savings ACOs are physician-led organizations that serve fewer than 10,000 beneficiaries.  Approximately 20 percent of ACOs include community health centers, rural health centers and critical access hospitals that serve low-income, and rural communities.  Fifteen of the new ACOs qualified to be “Advance Payment ACOs,” an innovative model designed especially for entities such as small doctors’ practices or hospitals and doctors that work in remote rural areas.


That’s good news for people with Medicare. 


Great health care is not simply a matter of showing up at your doctor’s office and getting a problem fixed.  It means physicians coordinating and improving the overall standard of care for their patients, which means important gains in patient safety, care quality, and value.


In other words, great health care requires a team that will work together at every stage of your care, which can lead to better health at lower cost.  That’s the aim of the ACOs.  Affordable Care Act reforms such as ACOs have helped to set Medicare on a more sustainable path today and into the future, as well as serve as a model for what improvements are possible for our nation’s health care system.


And that’s good news for all Americans.

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