On Jan. 21, the leaders of NAACOS, the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of ACOs, published a press release to the association’s website referencing newly published data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that shows a concerning drop in participation in the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) over the past year.
As the press release published Thursday noted, “The number of participants in the largest and most successful value-based payment program reached its lowest level since the Trump administration took office four years ago, according to new data released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). To start 2021, 477 accountable care organizations (ACOs) are participating in the Medicare Shared Savings Program, down from a high of 561 in 2018 and the lowest since 480 participated in 2017, the Trump administration’s first year in office.”
What’s more, “The National Association of ACOs (NAACOS) blamed the steady drop in ACOs on several Trump-era policies, including 2018 changes CMS called “Pathways to Success,” which gave ACOs limited time before taking on financial risk and cut the share of savings most ACOs are eligible to keep. Last year, CMS removed the opportunity for new ACOs to apply to join the Shared Savings Program in 2021, citing the pandemic. Coupled with programmatic lows in ACOs entering the program in 2019 and 2020 because of “Pathways” changes, the incoming Biden administration inherits fewer ACOs than the Obama administration left at the start of 2017. Despite the downturn in participation, ACOs in the Shared Savings Program, whose participation is voluntary, collectively care for 10.7 million Medicare beneficiaries, more than one in six on Medicare and 30 percent not enrolled in Medicare Advantage.”