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NAACOS to seek new leader, evolve to deal with market changes


President and CEO Gaus to step down in the fall.


Clif Gaus, ScD, at left, leads a panel discussion with Medicare leaders on April 11, 2024, as part of the spring conference of the National Association of Accountable Care Organizations. Gaus announced he will step down as president and CEO of NAACOS in the fall.

Changes to leadership and structure are in the plans for the National Association of Accountable Care Organizations (NAACOS).

Founding President and CEO Clif Gaus, ScD, announced he will step down in the fall. He has been with the organization since its start in December 2012. NAACOS now has 450 members; since its start, the market has grown from more than 100 Medicare ACOs to more than 600, with almost 600,000 clinicians serving more than 13 million beneficiaries, or almost 20% of all of Medicare.

“Clif has been an instrumental leader in the ACO movement, back to the passing of the Affordable Care Act,” said NAACOS board President Emily DuHamel Brower, MBA. Brower also is senior vice president of clinical integration and physician services for Trinity Health in Michigan. “To this day, he is a stalwart supporter of health care transformation that is driven by providers taking accountability for total cost of care and outcomes to achieve better, more accessible, affordable and equitable care for patients, families and communities. We wish him all the best as he turns the page on this chapter of his career.”


Clif Gaus, ScD

On April 11, Gaus announced the move during the opening plenary of NAACOS’ spring conference in Washington, D.C.

“In 11 years, a lot has change and a lot is changing,” Gaus said. He described six trends in the health care sector:

  • The ACO business case is increasingly challenging, with Medicare ACOs still the center of value in accountable care.
  • The cost of Medicare Advantage (MA) far outpaces ACOs, but there is growing consensus that MA is not saving taxpayer money, but is being subsidized by the Medicare trust fund.
  • National and state political dysfunction has made it hard to enact needed legislative reforms.
  • ACOs are looking less and less alike.
  • There is consolidation everywhere in health care, especially in primary care.
  • The broad spectrum of providers and payers are transitioning in multiple ways to value-based contracting value-based care in models that do not fit the traditional ACO organizational structure.

“In response to these industry-wide changes, the board is considering changes to NAACOS,” Gaus said.

“This is not a shedding of our core commitment and service to ACOs, but a reflection of the growing number of organizations, contracting for value, but maybe not always having the formal structure of a traditional ACO,” he said.

Brower said the organization’s leadership always wants member feedback, but especially now. She said a membership survey and town hall will come this summer, leading to NAACOS’ fall conference in October.

Brower outlined key discoveries about the health care market and NAACOS members.

A new strategic plan will rest on two pillars, Brower said. The first is a quantum leap in learning and education, with peer-to-peer learning that supports the broad transformation across payment models and care delivery models for broader populations, she said.

The second is “sharing the tent,” creating a bigger tent for organizations that NAACOS members are partnering with, and that NAACOS is collaborating with, to address challenges in primary care, including access, burnout and consolidation, Brower said.

The NAACOS board will work with consulting firm Korn Ferry on a national search for a new president and CEO, with leadership by Tom Giella, NAACOS chairman of health care services, and Lorraine Lavet, association practice leader. Additional information about the search will be available from Kelly Adamson at Kelly.Adamson@kornferry.com.

Gaus has made a 55-year career working for providers and payers in the presidential administrations of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

“The 11-plus years as CEO have been an immensely enjoyable chapter in my 55-year long career. When we founded NAACOS, everyone on the founding board believed we were the future of health care in America, and we still do,” Gaus said. “I am sure the board and new CEO will continue to lead the transformation of our health care system to a place where all patients can be sure they are receiving the highest quality care and value.”

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