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5 Changes To Help Medicare ACOs Thrive

Posted on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 10:35 AM

In order for the Medicare Shared Savings Program to reach its full potential, some key changes must be made, according to the authors in a recent Health Affairs blog post. Medicare ACOs have made progress on care quality and patient experience, however, only 1 in 4 MSSP ACOs have cut spending enough to share in overall savings. According to authors in Health Affairs, the Medicare Shared Savings Program needs to make the following changes to truly thrive:
  • Increased certainty: A major issue with MSSPs is uncertainty. In order to correct this, CMS should transition to a benchmark calculation formula that combines ACOs’ historical spending and regional spending to eventually transition to a benchmark based completely on regional spending.
  • Clear definition of the transition away from fee-for-service: CMS should drive the transition with incentives greater than those for fee-for-service for organizations that demonstrate reduced costs and improved quality.
  • Alignment of MSSP with other Medicare reimbursement programs: In order to get MSSP and other Medicare alternative payment models on the same page, the authors recommend risk adjustment calculations, reporting mechanisms and requirements, and consistent quality measures.
  • Patient engagement: ACOs need more support to communicate and engage with their patients. The authors suggest expanding CMS’ pilot program for Pioneer ACOs’ “attestation models.”
  • Use of pointers from commercial ACOs: Many ACOs in the private sector have seen more success than those under Medicare by shifting away from fee-for-service with limited financial risk. CMS “should seek to reinforce those successful steps.”
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