CMS to expand Pioneer ACO program

A government-sanctioned study published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association declared Pioneer ACOs saved more than $385 million in a two-year period, prompting the administration to announce the same day it will expand the program.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Acting Principal Deputy Administrator Patrick Conway made the announcement during a media conference call Monday. CMS had earlier projected the ACO project would generate about $96 million in savings over two years. 

CMS established the Pioneer Accountable Care Organizations for healthcare organizations and providers with advanced care coordination track records to transition rapidly to population-based payment models outside of the Medicare Shared Savings Model. Most of the savings ($280 million) in the Pioneer ACO occurred in the first year.

The Pioneer ACO model has had several members drop but it still serves about 600,000 Medicare beneficiaries, a number that is expected to grow.