medical, accountable care organizations

Providers groups are pushing back against the federal government, as the initial deadline looms for deciding whether to take part in Medicare’s most popular accountable care organization.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services last month announced an overhaul of accountable care organization provisions. Revisions will include an expanded use of telehealth for practitioners and expansion of the SNF three-day waiver for certain providers.

Today (Jan. 18) is the initial deadline for providers to submit their initial intent to apply to the Medicare Shared Savings Program – Pathways to Success, CMS said this week. The final deadline is Feb. 19. But provider groups, such as the National Association of ACOs are pushing back on that quick turnaround.

“ACOs barely have time to understand the new rules, and organizing an application is very complicated, and for some it is now a high-risk decision,” Clif Gaus, NAACOS president and CEO, said in a statement. “There are too many difficult decisions to rush.”

NAACOS Health Policy and Communications Advisor David Pittman noted in an interview that ACOs often partner with several different types of provider groups, including SNFs, physician practices and hospitals, and need to get all of them on board before submitting applications. “This takes time,” he told McKnight’s, and given the complexities in the 227-page final rule, “ACOs are examining who to even partner with.”

Changes to the ACO program are scheduled to go into effect on July 1, CMS said in December, and are expected to save Medicare about $2.9 billion over the next decade.