ACOsEpisodes of CareValue-Based Health Care
June 17, 2021

New ACO Playbook: How ACOS Can Transform Clinical Care for Diabetes

An illuminating article about ACOs, featuring current and former MedPAC chairs’ perspectives, argues that savings have been constrained because too much is beyond ACOs’ purview to manage. Examples include both external restrictions (the exclusion of prescription drugs and provider fee payments from ACO control) and internal cultural or economic barriers (conflicts of interest that make it difficult to reduce hospitalization revenues). ACOs Are Caught Between Roles as Provider and Payer The current ACO model is, indeed, challenging. Blending both provider and payer functions is fraught with conflict. But the provider-directed model was supposed to function closer to the actual delivery…
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ACOsAPM Performance PathwayMerit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS)RiskValue-Based Health Care
May 24, 2021

New ACO Playbook: To Show Standout Performance, ACOs Must Rethink Quality

The health care media are full of articles asserting that ACOs have proven their mettle in delivering health care of highest quality. Citing ACO quality reporting results, CMS and advocates point to the majority of ACOs passing CMS quality standards, and that ACOs are improving their results on quality measures over time. The vast majority of ACOs meet quality measures, with 92 percent passing the qualification for shared savings in 2019. But is quality performance a distinguishing feature that ACOs can use competitively—and sustain the payment model’s long-term prospects? To earn permanency and competitive advantage, ACOs must show that the…
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ACOsFuture of Health CareValue-Based Health Care
May 13, 2021

New ACO Playbook: Three Touchstones for ACO Viability

Some believe that an ACO’s leadership structure predicts its success. They point to differing savings results for physician-led versus hospital-led ACO shared savings models (MSSPs) to make their case. In particular, they make the argument that future Value-Based Care (VBC) policies should benefit the growth of successful physician-led ACOs, protecting them from policies that force them into Risk. There are significant flaws to tying ACO structure to the viability or value of the model, however, or in discrediting ACOs which don’t yet produce those savings but may have other important characteristics for the long term. In a more competitive health…
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ACOsEpisodes of CareFuture of Health CareRiskValue-Based Health Care
April 29, 2021

New ACO Playbook: Can Coordination of Care Save Enough Money to Save ACOs?

Central to the controversy about ACOs’ potential for Value-Based Care is whether they actually save enough money and reduce costs fast enough. Researchers and advocates have produced various independent studies of ACO savings, the most generous estimating $1.8 billion in cumulative savings over the first three years of the program, almost double CMS estimates. Many others, however, dismiss the small proportion of savings—at a few percentage points—relative to total Medicare spending. The previous CMS administration was clearly dubious about the shared savings model. It favored payment models that put providers at financial risk to increase cost reduction incentives, even though…
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ACOsRiskValue-Based Health Care
April 14, 2021

Why ACOs Need a New Playbook

A lot has happened in health care since 2012, when final rules permitted provider-organized ACOs to be the driving force of Value-Based Care under the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA). As we pass the ACA’s eleventh anniversary, a dwindling number of Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) ACOs are entering a new phase marked by higher expectations and more difficult economics. To succeed in this challenging environment, ACOs will need different tools going forward than first contemplated, because of competition, both from providers under new value-based payment models and from Medicare Advantage plans. They also face more skepticism. Although rule changes…
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ACOsDirect ContractingFuture of Health CarePrimary Care PracticesValue-Based Health Care
March 18, 2021

With Competing Payment Models on Hold, What’s the Future for ACOs?

When CMS first announced new primary care payment models in April 2019, ACOs understood that their future might be threatened by competition for both physicians and patients. If medical groups could independently contract with Medicare under these models, they would have the advantage of greater control over their physician network, referral arrangements, and clinical decisions. The Value-Based primary care models of Direct Contracting (DC) and Primary Care First (PCF) were presented as a strategy to fortify primary care and independent practitioners. By combining prospective payment, quality monitoring, and incentive pools for lowering admissions and total costs, providers could potentially reap…
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ACOsEpisodes of CareRiskValue-Based Health Care
August 26, 2020

Straight Talk for Providers Adopting Capitation: Don’t Fly Blind Without the Right Data

Value-Based Reimbursement—once focused on incentives and shared savings—now more often means capitation. Whether adopting Medicare Alternative Payment Models (APMs) or contracting with health plans, physician groups and health systems have signaled greater willingness to adopt these new Risk payment models with their guaranteed payments for attributed patients. But here's the problem: If you don't have good data on your costs, you are flying blind. Let’s look at the myths and realities of what you really need both to measure your success under global capitation and to ensure that your Risk program is on track to be successful. Do You Need…
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Future of Health CareRiskValue-Based Health Care
March 11, 2020

Value-Based Care Defined: Know the Vocabulary of Health Care Reform

Today, as we confront a viral threat that is challenging our health system, its capacity, and how care is financed, it seems appropriate to review some fundamentals. Health care reform has been speeding down a particular track, changing how health care is covered, paid, delivered, and organized. These reforms may seem to be about health care financing, but will make a future difference in health care access and patient outcomes. Medicare is driving the train with its huge budget and rulemaking capabilities. But insurance companies, in lockstep, are rapidly implementing similar changes. Understanding all those changes is no easy task.…
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ACOsDirect ContractingFuture of Health CareValue-Based Health Care
February 27, 2020

ACO Path to Viability: Direct Contracting May Be the Opportunity

What if your best route to viability was the high-risk path you feared the most, because that failure might destroy you? That's the question Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) have been asking this week—whether to participate in Medicare's new Direct Contracting (DC) initiative. With a shift in payments from Fee for Service (paid per-provider service), to Global Capitation (paid per-beneficiary), DC completely changes the incentives for the health care system. Whether Direct Contracting is a boon or a bust to ACOs depends on their ability to control the costs of patient care long-term—and whether they have the leverage to do so.…
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Future of Health CareRiskValue-Based Health Care
January 22, 2020

Can Hospitals Still Lead Health Care Under Risk?

As the millennium's third decade begins, Risk has taken hold as THE strategy for tackling health care costs. Virtually overnight (in health care years) the industry has moved—albeit not uniformly—to accept Risk. This transition is already beginning to impact hospitals and hospital-based systems, and raises serious questions about the viability of their role as the primary financial engine bankrolling health care operations, reforms and modernization. Just one year ago, the concept of provider risk in Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) was anathema to most participants. Despite initial misgivings, however, most ACOs remained in the system after CMS pushed forward with its…
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