January 9, 2019
CMS closed 2018 with a farewell to upside-only ACOs. Perhaps the biggest surprise in the “Pathways to Success” Final ACO Rule is its consistency with the Proposed Rule, which floated the revamped ACO Track back in August. Citing superior performance among two-sided participants, as well as the belief that upside-only tracks reduce patient choice and increase costs, CMS has finalized its proposal to push all ACOs into two-sided arrangements. Not coincidentally, this rule was simultaneously released with NextGen ACO model results, which showed that these 44 downside-risk ACOs saved $164 million. The rule, which will go into effect on July…Read More
June 13, 2018
Medicare Paths to Value-Based Health Care: Which Way is Up?
If you’re scratching your head about the direction of Value-Based Health Care (VBHC) in Medicare, you’re not alone. The current mix includes a swirl of separate initiatives, some new and others recently re-labled. As CMS pushes toward VBHC, providers may feel confused and frustrated as concepts emerge that will affect multiple programs. Within the last several months, the Patients Over Paperwork and Meaningful Measures initiatives have shaken up CMS value-based care programs, particularly: Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) Medicare Shared Savings Program ACOs (MSSP ACOs) Direct Provider Contracting (DPC) Even more confounding, CMS is taking a non-linear development path for…Read More
April 11, 2018
ACOs Must Create Learning Environment for Physicians to Be Partners in Change
The idea behind ACOs sounds simple enough: Build a network of primary care physicians, specialists, hospitals and other health care organizations that share risk and responsibility to provide coordinated care for each patient. Medicare or private insurers offer financial incentives to ensure that ACOs provide quality treatment while limiting unnecessary spending. Primary care physicians serve as key liaisons for each patient’s care. But ACO reality is much more complex and daunting. Shared savings have proven to be elusive. Quality benchmarks do not always accurately measure what’s medically relevant. Patient attribution to specialists, rather than primary care physicians, skews costs. Nonetheless,…Read More
April 4, 2018
ACO Economics 101: Optimize the Physician Network For Patient Choice
The inaugural MIPS 2017 submission period closed in a fog of uncertainty. The demise of MIPS looms on the horizon, with little discussion of opportunities for improvement. Heath and Human Services Secretary Azar has advocated for removing the quality reporting component of MIPS, while the Medicare Payment Advisory Committee (MedPAC) recommended scrapping MIPS altogether and pushed for a transition to Alternate Payment Models . Note that neither of these recommendations advocate a return to a simple Fee for Service model—it is not sustainable financially. Value-Based Health Care is here to stay, but Advanced Alternate Payment Models (AAPMs) with financial risk are…Read More
March 14, 2018
Can Provider-Led ACOs and AAPMs Deliver Health Care Transformation?
“In times of rapid change, experience could be your worst enemy,” said J. Paul Getty. He might have been giving us advice on how to transform health care. We have reached the tipping point for broader adoption of ACOs and other Advanced Alternative Payment Models (AAPMs) to organize health care and payment under both Medicare and commercial insurance. But our recent experience cannot tell us whether these approaches will work. This, despite the fact that an estimated 10 percent of insured individuals—32 million people—were already covered by private and public ACO services in mid-2017. And we reached that point even…Read More