April marked the 10-year anniversary of the start of the agreement period for the first Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) in the Medicare Shared Savings Program (Shared Savings Program) – an ambitious program to reward health care providers for improving health care for people with Medicare. The program now includes 483 ACOs with over 525,000 participating clinicians serving more than 11 million Medicare beneficiaries.
Shared Savings Program ACOs are groups of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers who join together voluntarily to give coordinated, high-quality care to Medicare beneficiaries with the goal that people receive the right care at the right time, while avoiding unnecessary duplication of services and preventing medical errors. When an ACO succeeds both in delivering high-quality care and spending health care dollars more wisely, the ACO may be eligible to share in the savings it achieves for the Medicare program. In certain instances, an ACO may owe a portion of losses to the program if it increases Medicare costs.