New data from CMS found that the Medicare Shared Savings Program saved $314 million for Medicare after bonuses paid to accountable care organizations in 2017.
ACOs saved $1.1 billion total and CMS shared $780 million in savings with providers. There were 472 MSSP ACOs in 2017, and 60% saved money while 34% earned shared savings.
The average ACO achieved 92% on quality scores. The analysis found that quality improved in conjunction with longevity.
The results are great news for ACO advocates. Clif Gaus, president and CEO of the National Association of ACOs, said the results show "ACOs have turned the corner and this evidence dispels confusion about ACO performance."
On top of all those financial savings, ACOs are knocking it out of the park on quality, averaging a quality score of 90.5 percent on the pay-for-performance measurement. #ACOsAreWorkinghttps://t.co/xMiUB3GAFt— NAACOS (@NAACOSnews) August 30, 2018
Farzad Mostashari, founder at Aledade, took to Twitter to suggest MSSP savings were actually much bigger than announced if other downstream factors are taken into account.
Mostashari said ACOs are cheaper than fee-for-service and Medicare Advantage models. Plus, program savings don't come via provider payment cuts or narrow networks.
1/ 2017 #MSSP #ACO Results!— Farzad Mostashari (@Farzad_MD) August 30, 2018
ACOs have scaled rapidly across the country!
In aggregate, the 472 ACOs were accountable for nearly 9 million Medicare beneficiaries and $95 Billion- that's a quarter of all fee for service, and almost half of the entire Medicare Advantage market.
The results come days after CMS said its Next Generation ACO saved Medicare about $62 million and maintained quality of care for 2016.
The 2017 MSSP results also come less than a month after CMS officials suggested possible changes to push more providers into risk-based ACO contracts. CMS officials said an MSSP overhaul would get ACOs to take on financial risk after one year for existing ACOs and two years for new ones. That's in contrast to the prior pace of six years.
"It's time for the program to evolve," CMS Administrator Seema Verma told reporters after the MSSP announcement. "What the data tells us is that ACOs taking two-sided risk are delivering better results."
Providers, however, are still wary of taking on more risk. A recent survey by NAACOS found that almost three-fourths of ACOs will abandon the MSSP next year if they are forced to assume risk. The organization predicted the change would result in an "exodus" from the Medicare program.
However, Center for Medicaid and Medicare Innovation Director Adam Boehler said last week that CMS won't force providers into risk-based contracting.