Are 66 new accountable care organizations (ACOs) in a year a sign of progress or a disappointing result? That depends on who you ask.
CMS announced last week that 66 additional ACOs joined the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) for ACOs in 2022, bringing the total up to 483 ACOs. However, that number is only six more than last year’s total of 477 and 34 fewer than the 2020 total of 517.
The fact that 66 additional ACOs joined the program but the total number of ACOs only increased by six suggested that 60 ACOs left the program last year. Asked to clarify the issue, a CMS spokesperson confirmed in an email that “60 ACOs either terminated their agreement or completed their agreement and did not renew their participation in the Medicare Shared Savings Program.” However, the spokesperson added, “while ACOs may have left the program, many practitioners treating patients have stayed with the program by joining a different ACO. Nearly two-thirds of the practitioners that made up the ACOs have moved into a different ACO, with 49% in Medicare Shared Savings Program ACOs and 16% in other … ACO models.”
“With one in every five healthcare dollars paid by Medicare, we can strengthen and transform our healthcare system,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure in a statement. “Accountable care organizations present an invaluable opportunity to move Medicare toward person-centered care.” The agency noted that these ACOs will be serving approximately 11 million Medicare beneficiaries nationwide, up from 10.7 million in 2021.