Using the term "phenomenal" at least three times to describe the health industry's response, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services executive on Tuesday named 27 accountable care organizations to begin the Medicare Shared Savings Program April 1. Another 150 groups have submitted applications in hope of being accepted for the second group, to start July 1.
"There were some who doubted last year that the rule-making process would produce any ACOs," CMS's deputy administrator Jonathan Blum said in a media briefing Tuesday. "That is not the case. We have a very strong program, and a phenomenal response, and we are on track to fundamentally transform the fee-for service program and to make it more accountable to lower overall cost.
"And for anyone who doubted the ACO program last year, today's results, today's numbers, should all give us tremendous confidence that we have physicians that want to participate and want to transform care. That there are organizations that want to participate from all over the country, large, small, rural, urban, and high cost and low cost."
The ACO model, which was set forth under section 3022 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is designed to incentivize teams of doctors, hospitals, physicians, and other providers to coordinate services in a way that improves quality of care by 33 measures and reduces cost per beneficiary. The goal is to avoid preventable hospitalizations and unnecessary imaging. Successful groups receive a share of the costs saved.