Jan 30, 2024 - Health

Accountable care participation grows in 2024

Data: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios
Data: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

More providers are participating in cost-cutting alliances of hospitals, doctors and other providers who care for groups of Medicare patients, according to new federal data.

  • But participation in Medicare's dominant value-based payment program is still hovering at levels similar to 2019.

By the numbers: About 13.7 million Medicare patients this year are cared for by accountable care organizations, a 3% increase from last year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said.

  • Nearly 817,000 providers are participating, compared with 700,000 in 2023, according to CMS.

Why it matters: The Biden administration wants to bring all Medicare beneficiaries into value-based care models by 2030, and ACOs are key to achieving that goal.

  • The Affordable Care Act created ACOs as a way to improve efficiencies and control costs by letting the providers retain more money if they hold down expenses. But the savings still are a small fraction of what Medicare spends annually.

Zoom in: This year, 480 groups will care for 10.8 million patients through Medicare's flagship ACO initiative, the Shared Savings Program.

  • CMS overhauled the program in 2022 amid plateauing interest from providers. Changes include up-front payments to providers in rural and underserved areas to help them get started.
  • Nineteen new ACOs will receive $20 million in up-front payments in 2024, CMS said.
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