This post is the second part of a two-part Health Affairs Blog series summarizing the coronavirus pandemic’s impact and policy implications for payment reforms, notably the largest payment reform program in the country: accountable care organizations (ACOs). In Part 1, published yesterday, we assessed changes in use and financial impact on ACOs based on existing data, highlighting the significant uncertainty and risk of financial loss facing ACOs in the face of rapidly approaching deadlines to stay in the program or leave. In Part 2, this post, we identify immediate issues and short-term actions that private payers, Medicare, and Medicaid can take immediately to adjust their ACO programs to adapt to this crisis in the coming weeks and months. These findings are based on informal discussions we had with ACOs and ACO stakeholders. We plan to follow this post with one in the coming weeks on longer-term program considerations.
Short-Term Actions: Adapting To The Crisis
As outlined in our post yesterday, the pandemic is expected to cause a significant increase in use and expenditures that affect ACOs’ shared savings or losses. The crisis will also require additional infrastructure investments, while reducing primary care and non-urgent care revenues. While these effects will vary by ACO organizational structure, geography, and size, all health care organizations are feeling some level of stress with providing patient care during the pandemic, and value-based payment program requirements are one more thing on top of an extremely long to-do list.