The federal government is again touting the success of accountable care organizations after newly-released figures pointed to another strong showing.

The start of the new year also marked the second start date for ACOs under the Shared Savings Program. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reported that the number of ACOs taking on extra risk for cost increases more than doubled — from 93 to 192 — between 2019 and 2020. 

“This will translate to lower costs and higher value for Medicare beneficiaries and taxpayers. CMS greatly appreciates the hard work and creative thinking from healthcare providers on the front lines who are participating in the program and redesigning their care delivery around value instead of volume,” Administrator Seema Verma wrote in a Health Affairs blog post Friday.

The agency also approved 53 applications for new ACOs and 100 applications for renewals.

Data also shows, however, that a total of 517 ACOs are participating in the program in 2020 — which is down from a high of 561 in 2018 and 518 in 2019, according to the National Association of ACOs. 

The organization warned that low participation could undermine the program’s progress. 

“ACOs have had the greatest success of any of Medicare’s payment reform efforts,” National Association of ACOs President and CEO Clif Gaus said in a statement. “If interest in ACOs dwindles, then doctors and hospitals will fall back into a fragmented, fee-for-service system, and any momentum to transform our health system will be lost.”

A December analysis found that ACOs lowered Medicare spending by $3.53 billion from 2013 to 2017, and that the program saved $755 million after making shared savings payments.