C-Suite Cheat Sheet: Accountable Care Organizations

Executive Summary

Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are groups of providers that assume responsibility for the cost and quality of care delivered to a given population. ACOs are comprised of two or more providers (physician groups, hospitals) and a payer (Medicare, private insurers). Along with traditional fee-for-service payments, ACOs receive shared savings bonuses for lowering costs and increasing quality of care for their assigned patients. 

There are two Medicare ACO programs active today: the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP), and the Next Generation ACO Program. The Pioneer ACO Program, introduced in 2010, was the third Medicare ACO program but it is now inactive. In December of 2018, CMS a ruling that significantly restructured the MSSP tracks available for ACOs in an effort to encourage participants to take on downside risk more quickly.  

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