April 29, 2021
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…Read More
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…Read More
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…Read More
October 30, 2019
Is Patient Lock-In the Next Step in Value-Based Care?
Hoping to safeguard survival under financial risk, health care providers are courting a contentious issue: how patients select primary providers. During the HMO heyday , health care risk economics depended on patient selection of primary providers as part of coverage selection that “locked” them into those PCPs and their referral networks. PCPs operated as gatekeepers to the rest of the health care system, authorizing services (or not) for specialists and other care. It’s well known that the HMO’s Primary Care gatekeeper model generated a backlash among private sector consumers. In fact, the gatekeeper was so unpopular with patients that it…Read More
October 23, 2019
Roji News Roundup: Fall 2019 Edition
In a range of recent industry publications, Roji Health Intelligence CEO Terry Hush shares her insights on the latest moves by CMS and health care trends: Are Value-Based Models Helping or Hindering Care Delivery for Primary Care Providers AJMC Managed Markets Network, October 10, 2019 This article by Jaime Rosenberg summarizes Terry’s presentation at the National Managed Care Physicians 2019 Fall Managed Care Forum in Las Vegas. Value-based models continue to enter the health care system, affecting a variety of fields, including primary care. And while success stories have been shared by payers and CMS touts these models as a…Read More
September 4, 2019
Will “Value” Help Consumers Choose?
In the emerging days of Value-Based Health Care (VBHC), “value” was defined by quality, cost, and experience of health care for patients—the “Triple Aim.” The movement’s initial defining goal: patients should be able to access high value health care services that improved outcomes, to get value for their dollars. Likewise, employers and other purchasers deserved similar value for their share of investment in health care benefit plans. Because incentives inherent in insurance and Fee-for-Service (FFS) payment systems reward volume over value, however, VBHC has also had a subagenda to make value pay for providers. But to reward better value instead,…Read More
August 28, 2019
How Should Primary Care-Centric Physician Practices Choose A Path to Risk?
It’s an urgent question for most practices: How should physicians participate in value-based reimbursement? Traditional Medicare is moving assertively to physician payment models that include capitation and ceilings on spending, with revenue risk tied to patient care costs. Without a doubt, primary care practices are bearing the brunt of risk-based reimbursement. With the exception of specialty-aimed Bundled Payments, most payment models are primary care-centric. Patient costs are grouped and then attributed to their primary care physicians—regardless of whether the services were provided by those physicians or by specialists and hospitals—and those PCPs are then rewarded or penalized under various risk…Read More
August 14, 2019
Five Actions ACOs Should Take Now: Takeaways from Proposed CMS Rulemaking
Last week CMS released a proposed rule addressing revisions in the Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) and the Quality Payment Program (QPP), along with a few other matters. Of 1,704 pages, only about 20 addressed ACOs issues directly. But ACOs should take a holistic approach to reading this proposed rule, as well as the proposed Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) rule. Competition Among Risk Models Will Strongly Affect the Course of Change With so many CMS programs and models now in flux, the whole is more than the sum of its parts. It’s worth the effort to pay attention to the…Read More
July 10, 2019
Can Medicare Primary Care Risk Models Work in Today’s Practice Environment?
There’s now no doubt that Medicare is eager to move forward with Value-Based Health Care and risk-based reimbursement. CMS has rolled out major changes to make Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) risk-bearing and add attractive benefits to capitated Medicare Advantage plans. Add to that two new classes of Primary Care Risk Models that introduce risk-based reimbursement into the general provider population, which, CMS says, are designed to stimulate primary care: Primary Care First (PCF) and Direct Contracting (DC). But we also know, from early CMS statements on direct contracting, that it intended to find other mechanisms to move physicians into Value-Based Health…Read More
June 5, 2019
Can Small PCPs Succeed in Medicare’s Primary Care First?
Medicare’s announced primary care models will provide an interesting test of whether financially-motivated primary care practices (PCPs) can improve hospital utilization, the key outcome measure that will determine provider revenues under the pilot. While provider risk for costs of patient care is inevitable for most physicians in the future, providers don’t have the same potential for financial success. That is especially true for PCPs, whose volume and roles in health care have been eclipsed by specialists and industry consolidation. Whether Value-Based Health Care can restore primary care to a central role of coordination—with the potential for cost reduction—is at the…Read More