Officials: Number of accountable care organizations more than doubles to 154

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There currently are 154 accountable care organizations in operation, according to federal officials. They announced today that 89 brand new ACOs began service July 1.

At the start of the month, the 89 new ACOs began coordinating care for 1.2 million Medicare beneficiaries in 40 states and Washington, D.C., officials from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced.

Authorized by the Affordable Care Act, ACOs are groups of physicians and other healthcare providers that were created to incentivize healthcare providers by allowing them to share in savings resulting from better, cheaper care. They are part of the Medicare Shared Savings Program.

“This new group of ACOs adds to a solid foundation,” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in a statement.

In a conference call announcing the new ACOs, CMS officials said the biggest savings from ACOs will be a result of decreased utilization of inpatient services.

Long-term care providers are expected to benefit from ACOs due to their emphasis on managing care for people discharged from acute care facilities. ACOs will hire case managers who are tasked with coordinating post-acute care and reaching out to high-risk individuals after an inpatient stay.

Starting this year, CMS will be accepting applications for ACOs annually. The application period is Aug. 1 through Sept. 6, 2012, for organizations that want to participate in the Medicare shared savings program starting in January 2013.

Click here for an ACO application, and here for an ACO fact sheet.

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