ACO roundup: HHS announces $100M effort to help small physician groups transition to MACRA

Key accountable care news from June 16 to June 22

The Daily Briefing editorial team rounds up recent accountable care news.

  • Small doc groups get MACRA help. HHS on Monday announced $100 million in new funding to help small physician practices prepare for the value-based payment changes that will be implemented under the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). The department will award $20 million annually for five years to educate and train small provider practices in rural and underserved areas. B. Vindell Washington, principal deputy national coordinator at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, says, "Providing these tools to help physicians and other clinicians in small practices navigate new programs is key to making sure they are able to focus on what is most important: the needs of their patients."

  • Why Mayo Clinic is offering patients a place to live. Three of the largest hospitals in Minnesota are developing short-term housing for individuals with mental health issues who are ready to be discharged but may still require more treatment. The state faces a significant backlog in its mental health care system, driven by a shortage in psychiatric beds amid increasing demand for services. There's also a dearth of community recovery homes, leaving some clinically stable patients stuck in hospitals for months at a time—blocking hundreds of other patients from receiving inpatient care. That need has led Hennepin County Medical Center, Regions Hospital, and Mayo Clinic to establish new recovery homes to ease the backlog.

  • Study: Medicare ACOs make modest gains. Medicare ACOs "are making modest, yet increasing gains in" reducing spending, particularly among patients with multiple conditions, according to a study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers from the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice analyzed 252 ACOs in the Pioneer and Medicare Shared Savings Programs that began their contracts in 2012 and 2013. According to the analysis, Medicare ACOs saved about $130 per patient annually, including about $450 per patient annually among patients treated for three or more conditions.

From Advisory Board:

  • Will MACRA make physicians even more accountable for cost and quality? Find out how the MACRA proposed rule could make ambulatory care providers financially accountable for quality and cost, and how maintaining sustainable Medicare reimbursement will require providers in all settings to identify and eliminate unwanted clinical and cost variations.

  • Take a two-step approach to reducing health disparities. In a system increasingly focused on outcomes and patient engagement, cultural competency is no longer optional. Find out what questions you should ask to learn about your community and identify and fill service gaps to ensure your organization is providing culturally appropriate care.

  • What University of Maryland did to integrate across six markets. With 12 hospitals and 600 providers across 6 markets, the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) struggled with consistency. We recently sat down with interim CEO of UMMS's Community Medical Group to learn a few steps the system took to become a truly integrated unit.

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