Next Gen ACO Coalition Engages with CMS to Accelerate the Adoption of Total Cost of Care Models in Traditional Medicare

Washington D.C. (July, 2021) – Next Gen ACO Coalition continues to engage with CMS to advance value based care, with a particular focus on models that enable providers to take on clinical and financial accountability through two-sided risk. In a letter to new CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, Next Gen ACO Coalition outlines several important steps CMS can take to accelerate the adoption of two-sided risk, total cost of care models. In particular, CMS should modify and reopen the Direct Contracting model for new participants by January 1, 2023, create a permanent full risk track mirroring the Next Gen ACO model within the Medicare Shared Savings Program, and engage model stakeholders to advance health equity through model design.

The full letter is available here.

Next Gen ACO Coalition Urges HHS to extend the Next Generation ACO Model through 2022 then as Permanent Option

Washington D.C. (Apr, 2021) – Medicare has led the value movement through a key mechanism found in its accountable care organization (ACO) models. In September 2020, CMS released performance results demonstrating that ACOs have achieved $1.2 billion in annual net savings relative to benchmarks. Among these ACO models, Next Gen stands out as a pathway for participating entities to elect full risk and reward while receiving operational and financial flexibility. In 2019 alone, Next Gen has achieved significant savings of over $558 million. Next Gen ACO Coalition, along with other national trade groups and companies, writes to urge the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to immediately extend this model through 2022 and create a permanent full risk ACO option based on Next Gen for the future.

The full letter is available here.

Next Gen ACO Coalition to Co-Host Capitol Hill Briefing on Value Based Care

Washington D.C. (Apr, 2021) – Value-based healthcare policy developments have restructured the healthcare landscape to emphasize the delivery, measurement, and outcomes of care. Over the past ten years millions of Medicare beneficiaries have been served by innovative payment models. These innovative payment approaches have also been deployed within private coverage. Innovative healthcare providers are successfully delivering improved patient care at lower costs through two-sided risk-based payment models like bundled payment arrangements and accountable care organizations.

Next Gen co-hosted a virtual educational boot camp on April 8, 2021 focused on understanding and implementing value-based healthcare payment and delivery system reform. Hear directly from some of the nation’s leading providers and health systems on the barriers they’ve overcome transitioning to alternative payment models and key actions Congress can take to ensure the success of value-based payment initiatives.

Fee-for-Service to Value: 10 Years of Transforming Healthcare

Watch the full video here.

Next Gen ACO Coalition Applauds Model Savings of $559 Million in 2019

Washington D.C. (Jan, 2021) – Next Generation Accountable Care Organizations (Next Gen ACOs) collectively saved $559 million last year, according to partial performance data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). In addition, Next Gens maintained an average quality score of 93.7%. The release shows financial and quality performance for 37 of the 41 Next Gens participating in the model in 2019.

The Next Gen ACO model tests the highest levels of financial risk, reward, and accountability in traditional Medicare. Since 2016, Next Gen ACOs have been leading the health care system’s transformation from volume to value. The model is currently set to sunset at the end of 2021. The Next Gen ACO Coalition is calling on the new Administration to make this model a permanent part of the CMS value-based care portfolio.

The press release is available here.

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The Next Gen ACO Coalition includes 20 ACOs committed to advancing two-sided risk models. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, these ACOs have used their investments in population health to provide care to their communities in new and innovative ways. Read more about our ACO resilience case studies here.

Advanced Alternative Payment Model Thresholds

Washington D.C. (Dec, 2020) – Next Generation ACO Coalition participants joined 501 practices across the country today calling on Congressional leaders to act to ensure access to strong financial incentives for clinicians participating in two-sided risk models that deliver high quality, coordinated, cost-effective care.

Congress enacted legislation, the bipartisan Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), establishing an incentive payment for providers who participate in Advanced Alternative Payment Models (APMs). The law included a 5% Medicare bonus intended to accelerate the transformation away from fee-for-service, volume-based reimbursement. This funding helps clinicians continue to build on the success of these models, driving further innovation that benefits patients. To qualify for the bonus, Advanced APMs must achieve certain revenue or patient count thresholds to demonstrate sufficient shifts to risk-bearing models.

In 2021, both the revenue and patient participation thresholds for the advanced APM bonus are scheduled to significantly increase. Currently, to qualify for the 5 percent bonus clinicians must have 50 percent of payments or 35 percent of patients in an advanced APM. In 2021, the thresholds jump to 75 percent of payments or 50 percent of patients. These dramatic increases will cause many clinicians, including those participating in the highest levels of financial risk available in the Medicare program, to lose the opportunity to qualify for a bonus payment.

“If providers cannot count on receiving these bonus payments, due to unrealistic thresholds, fewer providers will be willing to participate in APMs in the future, exactly the opposite of what MACRA’s authors intended when they drafted the threshold tests” the letter states.

Today, 501 practices, including Next Generation accountable care organizations (ACOs), are calling on Leadership in the House and Senate to freeze the MACRA APM thresholds at the 2020 levels for the next two performance years. “This freeze will give us the flexibility and financial security we need to continue to innovate and improve population health for our patients, as well as to continue to drive forward models that create a fiscally health future for the Medicare program” the letter concludes.

The increased threshold is set to take effect January 1, 2021.

The full letter is available here.

CMS Physician Fee Schedule Proposed Rule Comments

Washington D.C. (Oct, 2020) – On October 5, 2020, the Next Gen ACO Coalition submitted comments in response to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Physician Fee Schedule Proposed Rule. The letter responds to the agency’s proposals, including a proposal to transition Medicare ACOs to a new quality reporting system and performance standards and proposals around the advanced alternative payment model (APM) thresholds to qualify for a five percent incentive payment.

The Coalition calls for CMS to delay implementation of its quality proposals. As ACOs and their communities continue to recover from and respond to COVID-19, sweeping changes to the quality reporting and performance standards would create additional burden. In addition, the Coalition reiterates its call for CMS to freeze the patient count threshold for ACOs in 2021 to ensure that ACOs taking the highest levels of risk available in traditional Medicare qualify for the bonus as intended by Congress.

The full letter is available here.

Members of Congress Urge House Leadership to Stop MACRA APM Threshold Cliff

Washington D.C. (Sept, 2020) – Members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy encouraging the House to take action to ensure that entities participating in value-based care contracts continue to qualify for bonuses intended to reward clinicians that participate in performance-based risk in traditional Medicare.

The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) created an incentive payment for entities that take on certain levels of financial risk in traditional Medicare. The statute established certain requirements to qualify for the bonus payments. One such requirement is achieving a threshold related to participation. In 2021, the threshold test jumps dramatically. Now, risk-bearing accountable care organizations (ACOs) and Members of Congress are calling for relief from this cliff. The letter urges House leadership to act to prevent the cliff from going into effect.

The Coalition thanks the Members of Congress for their support in this important effort.

The full letter is available here.

NGACO Model Adjustments for COVID-19

Washington D.C. (June, 2020) – The NGACO Coalition’s Feedback on Model Adjustments for COVID-19 (excerpt)

On behalf of the Next Generation ACO Coalition, we write to thank you for the flexibilities you have implemented, including extending Next Gen for 2021, and request additional modifications to the program to bolster the move to performance-based risk.

Next Gen is currently the most advanced model in the CMS Innovation Center’s performance-based risk portfolio. The model tests higher levels of financial risk, reward, and accountability for patient populations. Since 2016, Next Gen ACOs have been leading the health care system’s transformation from volume to value.

Next Gens have rapidly deployed care coordination and care management services to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and care for patients with chronic conditions who are under stay-home orders. Examples include…

The full feedback document is available here.

CMS Extends Next Gen ACO Model for 2021

Washington D.C. (June, 2020) – Today, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation Center announced that the Next Generation ACO model will be extended for an additional year. On behalf of our 21 ACO members and the thousands of patients we serve across the country, the Next Generation ACO Coalition thanks CMS and the Innovation Center team for recognizing the value of this model and strengthening the future of accountable care. This extension ensures that we can continue providing quality, affordable services to our communities.

Next Gen is the most advanced model in the CMS Innovation Center’s performance-based risk portfolio. The model tests higher levels of financial risk, reward, and accountability for patient populations. Since 2016, Next Gen ACOs have been leading the health care system’s transformation from volume to value, a movement that can now continue through 2021.

An extension of the model does not mean that our work is done. In the short term, we will continue to deploy care coordination and care management services to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and care for patients with chronic conditions who are under stay-home orders. As the pandemic recedes and states return to full operations, we remain committed to managing population health and accelerating the movement to performance-based risk. We thank CMS for partnering with us to advance these goals.

Please see the CMS flexibilities blog post and model flexibilities table for additional information on the extension.

NGACO Coalition Asks CMS to Freeze MACRA Patient Count Threshold in Response to COVID-19 Outbreak

Washington D.C. (April, 2020) – The NGACO Coalition, which represents 20 of the Next Generation ACOs, is requesting that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services use its regulatory authority to freeze the MACRA patient count threshold for Advanced APM bonus eligibility at current levels. The attached document outlines the challenges presented by planned threshold increases, especially during a time when Next Generation ACOs are marshaling all possible resources to combat COVID-19.

The full letter is available here.