The purpose of this two-part Health Affairs Blog post is to summarize impacts, issues, and policy implications due to the coronavirus pandemic for the largest payment reform program in the country: accountable care organizations (ACOs). Clinician organizations participating in, and payers running, payment reform programs face significant uncertainty. ACOs, in particular, face substantial risk of financial loss related to their cost-performance requirements, and decisions to stay in the program or leave are rapidly approaching.
In Part 1 of this post, we estimate coronavirus-related changes in use and financial impact on ACOs based on existing data. In Part 2, to be published tomorrow, we identify immediate issues and short-term actions that Medicare, Medicaid, and private payers can take to adjust their ACO programs to adapt to this crisis in the coming weeks and months, based on informal discussions with ACOs and ACO stakeholders. We plan to follow this post with one in the coming weeks on longer-term program considerations.