A Medicare Shared-Savings Program Snapshot

CIRCA: ACOs 2020

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Doubting the Accountable Care Organization B-Model

New Healthcare Business Model or Edsel Model?

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By David Edward Marcinko MBA http://www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org


Dr. Marcinko with ME-P FansDefined by Professor Michael Porter at Harvard Business School, value is defined as a function of outcomes and costs. Therefore to achieve high value we must deliver the best possible outcomes in the most efficient way, outcomes which matter from the perspective of the individual receiving healthcare and not provider process measures or targets.

Sir Muir Gray expanded on the idea of technical value (outcomes/costs) to specifically describe ‘personal value’ and ‘allocative value’, encouraging us to focus also on shared decision making, individual preferences for care and ensuring that resources are allocated for maximum value.

Healthcare Value and ACOs

According to our Medical Executive-Post Health Dictionary Series of administrative terms http://www.HealthDictionarySeries.org  and health economist and colleague Robert James Cimasi MHA, ASA, AVA CMP™ of www.HealthCapital.com; an ACO is a healthcare organization in which a set of providers, usually large physician groups and hospitals, are held accountable for the cost and quality of care delivered to a specific local population.

ACOs aim to affect provider’s patient expenditures and outcomes by integrating clinical and administrative departments to coordinate care and share financial risk.

ACO Launch

Since their four-page introduction in the PP-ACA of 2010, ACOs have been implemented in both the Federal and commercial healthcare markets, with 32 Pioneer ACOs selected (on December 19, 2011), 116 Federal applications accepted (on April 10, 2012 and July 9, 2012), and at least 160 or more Commercial ACOs in existence today.

Federal Contracts

Federal ACO contracts are established between an ACO and CMS, and are regulated under the CMS Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) Final Rule, published November 2, 2011.  ACOs participating in the MSSP are accountable for the health outcomes, represented by 33 quality metrics, and Medicare beneficiary expenditures of a prospectively assigned population of Medicare beneficiaries.

If a Federal ACO achieves Medicare beneficiary expenditures below a CMS established benchmark (and meets quality targets), they are eligible to receive a portion of the achieved Medicare beneficiary expenditure savings, in the form of a shared savings payment.

Commercial Contracts

Commercial ACO contracts are not limited by any specific legislation, only by the contract between the ACO and a commercial payor.

In addition to shared savings models, Commercial ACOs may incentivize lower costs and improved patient outcomes through reimbursement models that share risk between the payor and the providers, i.e., pay for performance compensation arrangements and/or partial to full capitation.

Although commercial ACOs experience a greater degree of flexibility in their structure and reimbursement, the principals for success for both Federal ACOs and Commercial ACOs are similar.



Dr. David E. Marcinko with 1960 Ford Edsel

[© iMBA, Inc. All rights reserved, USA.]

[The Edsel was an automobile marque that was planned, developed, and manufactured by the Ford Motor Company during the 1958, 1959, and 1960 model years. With the Edsel, Ford had expected to make significant inroads into the market share of both General Motors and Chrysler and close the gap between itself and GM in the domestic American automotive market. But, contrary to Ford’s internal plans and projections, the Edsel never gained popularity with contemporary American car buyers and sold poorly. The Ford Motor Company lost millions of dollars on the Edsel’s development, manufacturing and marketing].




Junking the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) would undoubtedly let the proverbial air out of the MACRA balloon, dealing a significant blow to the value-based reimbursement shift; right?


Although nearly any healthcare enterprise can integrate and become an ACO, larger enterprises, may be best suited for ACO status.

Larger organizations are more able to accommodate the significant capital requirements of ACO development, implementation, and operation (e.g., healthcare information technology), and sustain the sufficient number of beneficiaries to have a significant impact on quality and cost metrics.


But, will this new B-Model work? Isn’t leading doctors in a shared collaborative effort a bit like herding cats? And, what about patients, HIEs, outcomes management, data analytics and … Population Health via our colleague David B. Nash MD MBA of Thomas Jefferson University, often considered the “father” of Pop Health?

OR, what about the developing IRS scandal and full PP-ACA launch in 2014? Will it affect federal funding, full roll-out, or even repeal of the entire Act?

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Accountable Care Organizations are Here

The Final Federal Guidelines

By Garfunkel Wild PC


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The much anticipated final federal regulations on accountable care organizations (ACOs) were published on October 20th, 2011. The Affordable Care Act created ACOs to deliver seamless, high quality care to traditional fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries while reducing the cost of care to those beneficiaries. If successful, ACOs will receive a portion of the shared savings they achieve for the Medicare program.

ACO Workgroup 

The Garfunkel Wild ACO Workgroup is in the process of analyzing these final regulations, and we will be hosting a webinar in the near future to discuss ACO participation and other ways providers can move towards collaborative care.

Final Regulations

In reviewing the final regulations, it is clear CMS took public comments to their proposed regulations seriously and made significant changes that should strengthen the ACO program. Some of these changes include:

  • Allowing ACOs to participate in an upside shared savings track (without being subject to downside losses) for the first three years of participation
  • Expanding the definition of participants eligible to form ACOs to include federally qualified health centers (“FQHCs”)
  • Reducing by about half the number of quality measures ACOs have to report
  • Permitting ACOs to share in first dollar saved once a minimum savings rate is achieved
  • Creating more flexibility for start dates for ACOs beginning in 2012
  • Removing EHR readiness as a condition of participation
  • Revising the process of assigning beneficiaries to ACOs from a pure retrospective process to a prospective process that includes retroactive adjustments


Also published with the CMS final regulations were interim final regulations published by the Office of Inspector General addressing the waiver of the application of federal fraud and abuse laws; a final policy statement issued by the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice outlining the agencies’ antitrust enforcement policies for ACOs, and an IRS Fact Sheet regarding tax exempt organizations participating in the Medicare Shared Savings program.


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