ACO numbers on the rise, HHS reports

December 23, 2013

The numbers of new Medicare accountable care organizations (ACOs) climbed to 123, according to new numbers from Health and Human Services.

The numbers of new Medicare accountable care organizations (ACOs) climbed to 123, according to new numbers from Health and Human Services.

“Doctors, hospitals and other health care providers have formed 123 new Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) in Medicare, providing approximately 1.5 million more Medicare beneficiaries with access to high-quality coordinated care across the United States," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today in a prepared statement.

According to the most recent numbers, more than half of ACOs are physician-led and serve fewer than 10,000 people. In total, there are 360 ACOs serving some 5.3 million Americans with Medicare, HHS reports in the statement.

ACOs were created as a system to share savings among providers for reducing healthcare costs while still maintaining quality of service.

In fact, the ACO model is all about moving beyond a fee-for-service approach into bundled payment structures that encompass all of the services provided during a single episode of care. Any cost savings that are generated are distributed in "shared-savings" payments to ACO participants, in theory incentivizing all members of an ACO to contain costs. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) evaluates ACO quality performance using 33 quality measures on patient and caregiver experience of care, care coordination and patient safety, appropriate use of preventive health services, and improved care for at-risk populations.

According to HHS, the next application period for organizations interested in participating in the Shared Savings Program beginning January 2015 will be in summer 2014.

Click here for a complete list of the new ACOs.