ACO evaluation should be based on region, not history, CMS says

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is considering changing its evaluation of accountable care organizations to be based on regional spending fee-for-service costs.

This would shift ACO benchmarks away from looking at historical spending under the proposal, filed in the Federal Register last Thursday. Benchmarks are used to measure ACO performance when the organizations renew their participation agreements with CMS.

Making ACO benchmarks that reflect regional spending, rather than historical expenditures, would offer an alternative option to encourage ACOs to enter performance-based risk arrangements, CMS said in its proposal.

"This proposal allows ACOs in all parts of the country to be successful by recognizing both their achievements and improvements in how they provide care,” Andy Slavitt, acting administrator for CMS, said in a statement. “This should have the effect of growing the number of ACOs, and making ACOs and the coordinated care they provide to patients, more of a standard in all parts of the country."

CMS is accepting comments on the proposal through March 28, 2016.