A VBCExhibitHall Exclusive -- contributed by Allison Brennon, SVP of Government Affairs at the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF ACOS (NAACOs)
NAACOS Launches ACO REACH Coalition to Prepare Providers
Those working in healthcare policy and payment reform are used to navigating political changes and challenges. However, many didn’t anticipate the strength of recent attacks on the Direct Contracting Model that brought the program under intense scrutiny and threat. The shift to value-based care has long been a bipartisan effort, with both sides of the aisle agreeing on the need to evolve our health care payment and delivery system from one based on uncoordinated fee-for-service to one based on a whole person, total cost of care approach. That long-standing bipartisan support made it all the more surprising when certain progressive lawmakers recently attacked the Direct Contracting Model, which is an accountable care model building off previous Medicare models, such as the Next Generation ACO Model.
We at the National Association of ACOs (NAACOS) understood a few of the concerns recently raised, such as not wanting a temporary model to grow too large and wanting the focus of value-based care to be on patients as opposed to profits. However, we were deeply concerned that suddenly ending the model without warning would fundamentally undercut the shift to value and providers’ confidence in working with Medicare as a fair and reliable partner in accountable care transformation. Thankfully, after a major advocacy campaign from NAACOS, Direct Contracting Entities (DCEs) and other leading stakeholders, we achieved a more thoughtful outcome to evolve– rather than end – the model.
This evolution comes with introduction of the new ACO Realizing Equity, Access, and Community Health (REACH) Model, the next premier accountable care model from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) Innovation Center that builds on Medicare accountable care programs that have demonstrated successful results for patients, providers, and the Medicare Trust Fund. NAACOS views the REACH Model as a very positive step towards increasing Medicare ACO participation while addressing other key priorities such as health equity. In addition to focusing on equity, the REACH Model will have increased provider governance, improvements to risk adjustment, and other changes that will benefit providers, patients and historically underserved communities. This model represents a shift from CMS communicating its support for ACOs to taking decisive action to expand accountable care, which is necessary for the agency to reach its goal of having all Medicare beneficiaries in an accountable care relationship by 2030.
As CMS doubles down on accountable care, so too does NAACOS. We recently launched a new NAACOS REACH Coalition, dedicated to shared learning and advocacy to promote the REACH Model. Sign up is complimentary. We are excited to work with providers new to accountable care as well as with current ACOs and policymakers at CMS to implement and improve the model as it moves forward. As part of NAACOS education efforts on the ACO REACH Model and the overall shift to value, the association is also pleased to announce that Elizabeth Fowler, Ph.D., J.D., CMS Deputy Administrator and Director of the Innovation Center, will be a keynote speaker at the upcoming NAACOS conference in April.
The new ACO REACH Coalition will help drive model participation and ensure REACH will be the next in a growing line of successful accountable care models.
Editor’s Note: A special thank you to Allison Brennan and the knowledgeable team at NAACOs for their valuable contributions to ACOs and the value-based care world. To learn more, visit www.NAACOs.com