Accountable care organization (ACO) growth has hit a snag again, with the COVID-19 pandemic impacting the number of ACOs in public and private contracts, according to a new analysis.
The analysis published in the Health Affairs blog found that ACO growth has plateaued over the last couple of years, starting in 2019 when CMS introduced higher downside financial risk to its flagship ACO model, the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP). ACOs experienced another decline by the first quarter of 2021 after the COVID-19 pandemic and the early closure of the application period for the MSSP’s 2021 performance year.
The trend is a marked difference after a time of rapid growth from 2010 through 2018. By the latter end of the growth period, there were over 1,000 ACOs in public and private contracts. Currently, there are slightly less than 1,000 ACOs.