The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced today that as of July 1, 2012, 89 new accountable care organizations (ACOs) started to serve 1.2 million Medicare beneficiaries in 40 states and Washington, D.C.
ACOs are established by the Affordable Care Act’s Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) to create new types of voluntary health care entities that are held accountable for coordinating care, improving health and quality of care, and reducing the growth of spending. ACOs are rewarded if they lower growth in costs of care while meeting quality performance standards and putting patients first. Five of the ACOs announced today applied for the two-sided risk model, a version of the MSSP that allows the ACOs to earn a higher share of the savings by also being accountable for a share of the losses.
The 89 ACOs announced today bring the total number of ACOs to 154 (including 32 Pioneer ACOs and 6 physician group practice transition demonstration organizations). As part of today’s announcement, HHS noted that it will begin accepting applications to participate in the MSSP annually, with applications for a January 2013 start date due between August 1 and September 6, 2012.