Pioneer ACOs Improve Quality, Earn $68 Million in Shared Savings

During the second year of the program, Medicare accountable care organizations reported improvements in nearly all of the quality and patient experience measures, according to data reported by CMS.

During the second year of the program, Medicare accountable care organizations (ACOs) reported improvements in nearly all of the quality and patient experience measures, according to data reported by CMS.

For 28 of the 33 quality measures—including screening for future fall risk, patient experience in health promotion and education, and controlling high blood pressure—participating organizations showed improvements. The mean quality score among ACOs also increased by 19% from 71.8% in 2012 to 85.2% in 2013.

The Pioneer ACOs saved more than $96 million and qualified for shared savings payments of $68 million. However, efforts to slow health spending were mixed. CMS reported that during the second year, 11 of the 23 ACOs earned shared savings and 3 lost money. Another 3 chose to defer reconciliation until after they complete the third year.

Pioneer ACOs reported a 1.4% per capita growth in spending for the Medicare program, which is approximately 0.45% lower than Medicare fee-for-service.

The Medicare Shared Savings Program, which includes 220 ACOs, also reported results from last year. Fifty-three ACOs in this program held spending $652 million below their targets, although 1 ACO overspent by $10 million and owed shared losses of $4 million.

In total, the ACOs in the Pioneer and the Shared Savings Program generated more than $372 million in total program savings, according to CMS. Furthermore, they qualified for shared savings payments of $445 million in total.

ACOs in the Shared Savings Program improved on 30 of 33 quality measures, including patients’ ratings of clinicians’ communication, health promotion and education, and screening for tobacco use and cessation.

More than 360 Medicare ACOs have been established in 47 states since the Affordable Care Act was passed. These organizations serve 5.6 million Americans with Medicare.

“We all have a stake in improving the quality of care we receive, while spending our dollars more wisely,” HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said in a statement. “It’s good for businesses, for our middle class, and for our country's global competitiveness. That’s why at HHS we are committed to partnering across sectors to make progress."