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Track 3 For Medicare ACOs

by Clive Riddle, June 5, 2015

CMS has just issued a 592 page MSSP ACO final rule resulting from their proposed rule issue in December, which received 275 stakeholder comments.

Here’s what CMS, in their own words, says the new final rule will accomplish:

  • Creates a new Track 3, based on some of the successful features of the Pioneer ACO Model, which includes higher rates of shared savings, the prospective assignment of beneficiaries, and the opportunity to use new care coordination tools;
  • Streamlines the data sharing between CMS and ACOs, helping ACOs more easily access data on their patients in a secure way for quality improvement and care coordination that can drive critical improvements in beneficiaries’ care;
  • Establishes a waiver of the 3-day stay Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) rule for beneficiaries that are prospectively assigned to ACOs under Track 3; and
  • Refines the policies for resetting ACO benchmarks to help ensure that the program continues to provide strong incentives for ACOs to improve patient care and generate cost savings, and announces CMS’ intent to propose further improvements to the benchmarking methodology later this year. 

CMS notes that “over 400 ACOs are participating in the Medicare Shared Savings Program, serving over 7 million beneficiaries.” With respect to basing their new Track 3 on selected components of their Pioneer ACO model, they tout that Pioneer ACOs “generated over $384 million in savings to Medicare over its first two years – an average of approximately $300 per participating beneficiary per year – while continuing to deliver high-quality patient care.  The Pioneer ACO Model is the first that meets the tests to have its elements incorporated into other Medicare programs.” 

California Healthline reports that “the new track for ACOs will allow them to retain up to 75% of what they save but also be responsible for up to 75% of their losses (California Healthline, 12/2/14). ACOs in the new track also will be given a fixed set of beneficiaries for which they must provide care (Modern Healthcare, 6/4)….. CMS said that it expects the rule change will help ensure that 90% of MSSP ACOs stay with the program.”

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