Most of the ACOs in a risk-based contract chose Track 1+, the latest risk model. That track has providers take on more risk, but with a 5% bonus if they meet targets.
The sharing savings program lets providers and hospitals earn a bonus if they meet spending and quality targets, in an effort to improve care coordination and lower healthcare costs. ACOs in the program now include about 10.5 million Medicare beneficiaries, an increase from 9 million in 2017.
Clif Gaus, president and CEO of the National Association of ACOs, highlighted the 101 ACOs participating in risk-based tracks this year.
“This growth is an encouraging sign that more ACOs are preparing to take on risk, but it’s vital to recognize all the time and effort for these ACOs to be ready to assume risk. We need to continue to improve the ACO program as a whole to provide the stability and demonstrated success necessary for ACOs to feel confident to enter into these risk-based ACO models.”
So far, results from ACOs have been mixed, but there have been notable successes. A recent analysis from the HHS Office of Inspector General focusing on the first three years showed that most ACOs in the program reduced spending and improved care quality.
The report found that the groups cut spending by a total of $3.4 billion in the three years studied for a net reduction of nearly $1 billion, but also discovered large differences between an ACO’s success. About half of the reduction came from 36 ACOs, and three in that group were responsible for a quarter of that amount.
The inspector general report also found the highest performing ACOs usually have sicker beneficiaries and were more likely to include only physicians. ACOs also, on average, had better quality scores than fee-for-service providers in more than 80% of 33 individual measures.
The most improved quality measures were in areas like flu vaccines, depression screening, fall risk and body mass index, according to the report.