CMS Releases New ACO Case Studies

CMS has released three new case studies describing innovative programs from Medicare Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). The case studies feature ACO initiatives related to:

  • promoting staff development through leadership academies,
  • conducting home visits, and
  • engaging providers.

The case studies highlight ACOs participating in the Next Generation ACO Model and the Medicare Shared Savings Program. Each case study includes detailed results and describes lessons learned by the ACO during implementation. By sharing the stories, CMS hopes to help current and future Medicare ACOs, and other providers and entities, find new ways to make care better, people healthier, and spending smarter.

For more information on these case studies, and to view past case studies and the ACO Toolkit on Care Coordination, please visit the ACO General Information web page.

Codify Success of Next Gen Model into Regulatory Full-Risk Offering in Pathways for Success

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 30, 2019) – The Next Generation (Next Gen) Accountable Care Organization Coalition represents 21 of the existing Next Gen ACOs. We appreciate the opportunity to weigh in as you continue to design and implement the future portfolio of performance-based risk models.

The Next Generation ACO model has demonstrated that organizations can be successful in taking two-sided financial risk. The evaluation of the first performance year of Next Gen resulted in an estimated $63 million in net savings or a 1.1 percent decline in Medicare spending while maintaining quality for patients.

Next Gens have successfully implemented care management programs that are improving care for seniors in traditional Medicare. For example, Next Gens have engaged beneficiaries in transitions of care programs, disease management, social work and health enhancement programs, as well as strengthening relationships with primary care providers. As a result of these care redesign initiatives, Next Gens have achieved reduced readmissions rates, reduced non-emergent use of the emergency department; and improved quality for beneficiaries.

The full letter is available here.

Permanence for the Next Generation Accountable Care Organization (NGACO) Model

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 30, 2019) – The undersigned organizations write to encourage the Department of Health and Human Services to expand the duration and scope of the NGACO model to be a permanent, voluntary offering in the performance-based risk model portfolio beginning with the 2021 performance year. Participants in the NGACO model have demonstrated success in terms of controlling costs for Medicare and improving care for seniors. Extending the availability of this model will allow additional providers to pursue the transition to improved care outcomes and greater levels of financial accountability.

We believe there is sufficient evidence of the model successfully meeting the criteria under Section 1115A authority to expand its duration and scope of participation. However, we call on the agency to begin the work of incorporating the most successful features of the NGACO program into Pathways to Success immediately through regulation (as the agency did with the Pioneer ACO program).1 Making this option available for future participation will support a smooth transition into performance-based risk arrangements for more providers while also building on the lessons learned from successful Innovation Center pilots.

The full letter is available here.

CMS releases Care Coordination Toolkit and series of ACO Case Studies

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Apr. 10, 2019) – CMS has released a public ACO Care Coordination Toolkit showing the work of ACOs and End-Stage Renal Disease Care (ESRD) Seamless Care Organizations (ESCOs) participating in the Shared Savings Program, Next Generation ACO Model, and the Comprehensive ESRD Care Model. The toolkit highlights innovative care coordination strategies that ACOs and ESCOs use to collaborate with beneficiaries, clinicians, and post-acute care partners to ensure high-quality, effective care is provided at the right time and in the right setting. The toolkit aims to educate the public about strategies used by ACOs and ESCOs to provide value-based care while also providing actionable ideas to current and prospective ACOs to help them improve or begin operations.

CMS has also released seven case studies to describe innovative initiatives from ACOs and ESRD ESCOs on a variety of topics including engaging beneficiaries, coordinating care in rural settings, and promoting health literacy. Each case study includes detailed results and lessons learned. By sharing their stories, we hope to help current and future Medicare ACOs, and other providers and entities, find new ways to make care better, people healthier, and spending smarter.

The toolkit is available here.

The case studies are available here, under Case Studies.

Improving Transparency for Innovation Center Models

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Mar. 26, 2019) – The undersigned organizations write to encourage the CMS Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (Innovation Center) to continue to improve transparency and stability as you develop a successful portfolio of payment models. While we appreciate steps the agency has taken, such as hosting stakeholder roundtable discussions to gather input, we ask that the Innovation Center move to a more methodical and public process for releasing and updating payment models.

Like you, our organizations and the members they represent are committed to the move to alternative payment models (APMs), including those with an emphasis on performance-based risk. We agree that many provider groups of various sizes and composition across the country are prepared to make the leap to greater levels of financial and clinical accountability to improve the health of America’s seniors. Provider organizations that have taken the first step toward two-sided risk models have successfully reduced costs and improved care for patients. We are excited to continue to work with the Innovation Center to pursue new models, many of which will feature increasing levels of financial risk and reward. We are confident that this is the right direction to create a sustainable healthcare delivery system for the future.

The full letter is available here.