Once again on last Thursday, July 19, we were witnesses to the ongoing debate over how well ACOs (accountable care organizations) participating in the MSSP (Medicare Shared Savings Program) program are doing. And it was and is a debate of interest and of importance. How full is that glass? It absolutely depends on one’s perspective—and perhaps also, one’s interests and incentives.
It all began when Seema Verma, Administrator of CMS (the Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services) announced, in the Health Affairs Blog, the new numbers for MSSP ACO participation. As Administrator Verma wrote, ““To create multiple opportunities for providers to learn about the new participation options available under Pathways to Success in the first performance year, CMS is providing two application cycles in 2019,” Administrator Verma wrote on Wednesday. “Today, I am pleased to announce ACO participation data under Pathways to Success for the July 1, 2019 start date. CMS approved a total of 206 ACO applications for this start date, increasing the total number of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries who receive care from health care providers in ACOs from 10.5 million to 10.9 million. Forty-one of the 206 ACOs (20 percent) are entirely new; 25 (12 percent) are re-entering after a period of time when they did not participate as an ACO; and the remaining 140 (68 percent) are renewing their agreements. (Eighteen of these 140 ACOs chose to renew early, before their current agreement period ended.)”