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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.

NGACO Coalition Feedback on Direct Contracting Model

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan, 2020) – The NGACO Coalition’s Feedback on Direct Contracting Model (excerpt)

CMMI Should Reduce the Financial Exposure in the Direct Contracting (DC) Model

Issue: The current financial model includes a 2-5% discount for global model participants; a 2% retention withhold for early termination; a 5% quality withhold; and a leakage withhold. CMMI limits the maximum upward and downward adjustment that can result from incorporating regional expenditures into the benchmark, with an upward limit of 5% and a downward limit of 2%. CMMI has not yet released the risk adjustment methodology for DC. The total impact of these withholds and discounts represents significant risk exposure for participants.

NGACO Coalition Recommendations:

  • CMMI should reduce or waive some of the model’s withholds and discounts:
    • CMMI should waive the 2% retention withhold for entities with experience with two-sided risk as they have made significant investments in the infrastructure to manage risk and have demonstrated their commitment to do so.
    • CMMI should reduce the discount percentage in the global model.
    • CMMI should increase the cap on the regional component of the benchmark from 5% to 10% to align with Next Gen. The floor should remain at 2%.
  • CMMI should ensure that the DC risk adjustment methodology aligns to the risk adjustment methodology for Medicare Advantage (MA) (i.e., uncapped).
  • In the global model total care capitation track, DCEs should be able to negotiate their capitation with CMS, including the option for a seasonality adjustment to reflect on-the-ground factors specific to the DCE’s patient population. DCEs should have the option for a higher upfront payment and reconciliation, similar to the approach offered for primary care capitation.
  • CMMI should allow Standard DCEs to nest High Needs DCEs. Removing the most complex subset of the population and those providers creates substantial financial risk and results in an unfair playing field for Standard DCEs as compared to High Needs DCEs.

The full feedback document, including other issues and recommendations, is available here.