Medicare’s Accountable Care
Organizations Continue Growth as Health Care Spending Slows
123 new ACOs join program;
Congressional Budget Office estimates Medicare spending per beneficiary
will grow at approximately the rate of growth of the economy for the
23, 2013 – There are now more than 360 Accountable Care Organizations
working with Medicare to provide higher-quality coordinated care to 5.3
million seniors and other beneficiaries, while reducing the cost of
health care, according to an announcement today by HHS Secretary
Kathleen Sebelius. And, she added that Medicare is expected to break a
decades old pattern of spending growth outstripping economic growth.
Doctors, hospitals and health care
providers establish ACOs to work together to provide better health care
through closely coordinated services to their patients, while working to
slow the growth of health care cost.
The announcement today focused on
the 123 new ACOs that have been organized to serve 1.5 million people
This addition brings the total ACOs
to 360, since the passage of the Affordable Care Act.
Affordable Care Act provisions have
a substantial effect on reducing the growth rate of Medicare spending,
according to the announcement. Growth in Medicare spending per
beneficiary hit historic lows during the 2010-2012 period, and this
trend has continued into 2013.
Projections by both the Office of
the Actuary at CMS and the Congressional Budget Office estimate that
Medicare spending per beneficiary will grow at approximately the rate of
growth of the economy for the next decade, breaking a decades-old
pattern of spending growth outstripping economic growth.
Beneficiaries seeing health care
providers in ACOs always have the freedom to choose doctors inside or
outside of the ACO. ACOs share with Medicare any savings generated from
lowering the growth in health care costs when they meet standards for
high quality care.
“Accountable Care Organizations are
delivering higher-quality care to Medicare beneficiaries and are using
Medicare dollars more efficiently,” Secretary Sebelius said. “This is a
great example of the Affordable Care Act rewarding hospitals and doctors
that work together to help our beneficiaries get the best possible
Kelly A. Conroy, executive director
of the Palm Beach ACO and South Florida ACO said, “This program puts the
control in the hands of physicians and allows them to take the lead in
an innovative way to deliver the right care to the right patient at the
He added, “We are honored to be a
Medicare Shared Savings Program Accountable Care Organization, and after
18 months in the program, can proudly say that we have seen measurable
success. We are so impressed with our participating physicians’
enthusiasm towards the cultural shift, and it demonstrates that
physicians are primed for the future of medicine.”
The ACOs must meet quality
standards to ensure that savings are achieved through improving care
coordination and providing care that is appropriate, safe, and timely.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) evaluates ACO quality
performance using 33 quality measures on patient and caregiver
experience of care, care coordination and patient safety, appropriate
use of preventive health services, and improved care for at-risk
The new ACOs include a diverse
cross-section of health care providers across the country, including
providers delivering care in underserved areas. More than half of ACOs
are physician-led organizations that serve fewer than 10,000
beneficiaries. Approximately 1 in 5 ACOs include community health
centers, rural health clinics, and critical access hospitals that serve
low-income and rural communities.
The next application period for
organizations interested in participating in the Shared Savings Program
beginning January 2015 will be in summer 2014.
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