Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) began as a method for healthcare organizations to provide their patients with coordinated care. According to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), ACOs are groups of doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers, who come together voluntarily to give coordinated high quality care to the Medicare patients they serve.  The purpose of creating ACOs is to provide higher quality care while cutting costs for organizations. New financial results, however, are causing some ACOs to leave the Pioneer ACO Model.

The Pioneer ACO Model is one type of ACO model designed for healthcare providers that were already experienced in coordinating care for patients. Its population based payment model was projected to cut costs for healthcare providers, patients, and Medicare. In reality, however, the findings for different ACOs in 2012 were quite diverse. Some boasted financial savings and others recorded significant losses. Since its advent in 2012, this healthcare reform movement has caused many original members to leave the Pioneer ACO Model, leaving only nineteen of the thirty-two original members.

Several of these original members have switched over to the Medicare Shared Savings Program, which allows the organizations to share in savings with minimal risks. This system is a fee-for-service alternative that has been largely successful in cutting down costs. Another factor contributing to the fluctuating number of healthcare providers participating in Accountable Care Organizations is the contribution from the CMS. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is contributing $114 million to encourage ACOs to take on greater financial risk. It still remains to be seen just how much this with impact healthcare systems.

For healthcare professionals interested in learning more about Accountable Care Organizations, here are a few news stories on ACOs from around the web:

What do you think is the future of ACO programs? Do you think these financial incentives will revive ACO membership?

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