Post-acute push saves $411 million: feds

Medicare accountable care organizations saved the federal government more than $411 million in 2014, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

A CMS report released in late August included data from 20 Pioneer and 333 Medicare Shared Savings Program ACOs. Of those ACOs, 97 earned shared savings bonuses of more than $422 million by meeting quality standards. ACOs are judged on 33 quality measures, patient physician ratings and use of electronic health records. If an ACO shows it provided quality care and reduced spending, it can share in the savings it generated for Medicare.

Some of the Pioneer ACOs' success reflects organizations' attention to post-acute care costs and quality, Modern Healthcare reported. Some ACOs have made networks of skilled nursing facilities vetted for quality, which they recommend to patients. Others work with SNFs to find non-hospital alternatives to some services, like blood transfusions.

“These results show that accountable care organizations as a group are on the path towards transforming how care is provided,” wrote CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt.