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More ACOs Than Ever: Medicare Shared Savings Program Swells in 2018

By Steven Porter  
   January 19, 2018

Though the program and its savings have steadily climbed, CMS released participant data without fanfare.

There are more accountable care organizations (ACOs) participating in the Medicare Shared Savings Program this year than ever before.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released data online this month, listing 561 ACOs and 10.5 million assigned beneficiaries for performance year 2018—up from 480 ACOs and 9 million beneficiaries in 2017.

Despite MSSP’s sustained growth in both size and performance payments earned, this year’s participant numbers were released quietly, and a spokesperson for CMS declined to arrange an interview to discuss the program’s apparent success.

But representatives from many of the ACOs taking advantage of the program this year were eager to tell HealthLeaders Media about their efforts to improve quality and cut costs.

“From our perspective, we are looking to help hospitals and clinicians improve the quality of care they provide and do it in a sustainable way that supports their business needs,” says Tim Gronniger, MHSA, MPP, a former CMS official in the Obama administration and current senior vice president of development and strategy for Caravan Health, based in Kansas City, Mo.

Caravan Health, which has worked with hospitals to build MSSP ACOs across the country, added 15 ACOs this year to the 23 it already had. The expansion reflects Gronniger’s confidence in MSSP’s utility and durability moving forward.

That confidence endures despite uncertainty last year over how the Trump administration might seek to change the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) and Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS).

“You know, Tom Price has come and left, and MACRA is still standing, and the Innovation Center is still churning out models, and we still see a pretty strong push for value from the government but also an organic desire from the health industry to continue finding ways to improve,” Gronniger says.

Steven Porter is editor at HealthLeaders.


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