ACO roundup: Study says physician-led ACOs outperform hospital-led ACOs

Key accountable care news from the past week

  • Are MSSP ACOs hitting target savings? CMS says no, but a new report says yes. A new report from the National Association of ACOs (NAACOs) finds that accountable care organizations (ACOs) participating in the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) generated $1.84 billion in savings between 2013 and 2015—nearly twice as much as the $954 million CMS data show the ACOs saved.

  • NAACOs voices support for Connected Care Pilot Program. NAACOs has expressed support for the Connected Care Pilot Program, which will use $100 million to boost telemedicine and digital health services for U.S. residents living in rural areas. In a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair Ajit Pai, NAACOs wrote, "Since ACOs achieve savings by eliminating ineffective services and promoting low-cost care, the Commission will find its goals of the Connected Care Pilot will almost certainly fit with ACOs' mission." However, the group also called for a "less prescriptive use of funds [to] allow ACOs to best fit the needs of their patients," and recommended that FCC measure the program's success by "leverag[ing] existing reporting requirements" for ACOs "before creating new measures and reporting burdens." 

  • Physician-led ACOs outperform hospital-led ACOs, study finds. Physician-led ACOs participating in MSSP saved about $256.4 million for Medicare in 2015, while participating hospital-led ACOs ended up costing the program money in the same time period, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. For the study, researchers assessed Medicare claims between 2009 and 2015 to assess costs for patients in physician- or hospital-led ACOs before and after those ACOs joined MSSP. The researchers found that "[a]fter three years of the MSSP, participation in shared-savings contracts by physician groups was associated with savings for Medicare that grew over the study period, whereas hospital-integrated ACOs did not produce savings (on average) during the same period."

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