The Congressional budget deal passed earlier this month includes changes to the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP), impacting ACOs participating in the initiative. One of the most prominent changes to the MSSP is the establishment of the ACO Beneficiary Incentive Program, which allows ACOs to pay patients up to $20 for making appointments with their primary care physician—much like the existing Coordinated Care Reward Program. The Beneficiary Incentive Program will also enable beneficiaries to select an ACO-affiliated physician as their primary care provider. Industry experts hope these changes will encourage beneficiaries to be more proactive and engaged in their own care.
An Accountable Care Organization (ACO) is a voluntary association of healthcare providers that bases physician reimbursement on performance quality and outcome in order to lower overall costs. This method incentivizes physicians to deliver higher-quality care at an affordable cost, and is replacing the traditional fee-for-service model that has dominated healthcare in the past.