Medicare ACO savings results 'incredibly unsatisfying,' MedPAC says

Price increases, not a larger senior population, are responsible for exploding healthcare costs: ana
Price increases, not a larger senior population, are responsible for exploding healthcare costs: ana

The financial savings generated by Medicare's Accountable Care Organizations are disappointing, and may signal the need for changes to the program, Medicare Payment Advisory Commission officials said last week.

MedPAC, sharing its own data on the ACO program at a meeting on Thursday, found the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services paid providers participating in the Medicare Shared Savings Program $646 million in 2015. MSSP organizations generated $429 million in savings that year, meaning the agency took a $216 million hit overall.

Those kinds of results are “incredibly unsatisfying,” MedPAC Commissioner Craig Sammit, M.D., said during the meeting. Pointing to the fact that some ACOs have generated savings for CMS, Samitt recommended the group to undertake research on the factors that make an ACO successful, Bloomberg BNA reported.

Many ACOs are participating in the program with one-sided risk models, where they can benefit from the savings they generate without taking on the risk of loss, noted MedPAC Commissioner Willis Gradison. He suggested that MedPAC develop recommendations to push more ACOs to take on risk of both savings and losses.

CMS reported in August that ACOs achieved savings totalling $1.29 billion for the agency and demonstrated notable quality improvements in 2015.