Medicare ACOs

Federal Health Policy Update for Tuesday, June 21

The following is the latest health policy news from the federal government as of 2:45 p.m. on Tuesday, June 21.  Some of the language used below is taken directly from government documents. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services The Supreme Court has ruled that CMS acted inappropriately when it reduced 340B payments to hospitals.  In a unanimous decision, the court found that the law creating the program gives the federal government two ways to set 340B payments for outpatient drugs for qualified providers and that the manner in which CMS cut those payments in 2018 followed neither.  Learn more from [...]

MedPAC Reports to Congress

MedPAC has submitted its annual report to Congress. The congressionally mandated report, titled Report to Congress: Medicare and the Health Care Delivery System, consists of seven chapters: Realizing the promise of value-based payment in Medicare: an agenda for change. Challenges in maintaining and increasing savings from accountable care organizations (ACOs). Replacing the Medicare Advantage quality bonus program. Mandated report: Impact of changes in the 21st Century Cures Act to risk adjustment for Medicare Advantage enrollees. Realigning incentives in Medicare Part D. Separately payable drugs in the hospital outpatient prospective payment system (OPPS). Improving Medicare’s end-state renal disease (ESRD) prospective payment [...]

Mandatory Payment Models Coming to Medicare?

Even as CMS rolls out new, voluntary Medicare alternative payment models, it is contemplating making participation in future models mandatory rather than voluntary, as is currently the case. Or so Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services administrator Seema Verma told a gathering in Baltimore last week. At the heart of the idea, Verma told her audience, is that while CMS is pleased with participation in voluntary accountable care organization models, organizations are choosing to participate in ACO models they think would benefit them most while posing little or no downside financial risk.  The agency may need to move away from [...]

New ACO Incentive: Exemption From 3-Day Stay SNF Requirement

In an effort to encourage more Medicare accountable care organizations to assume financial risk for the care of their patients, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is extending its exemption from the three-day inpatient stay requirement before Medicare ACOs can discharge their patients to skilled nursing facilities to ACOs participating in selected ACO model programs that involve two-sided risk under preliminary prospective assignment with retrospective reconciliation. This move expands the waiver from the three-day SNF requirement that ACOs that assume greater financial risk already receive. Details about the new policy, including the ACO models that qualify for this exemption [...]

CMS Revamps Medicare ACO Program

The federal government seeks to pursue greater savings and an accelerated approach to value-based care through an overhaul of its programs for Medicare accountable care organizations. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ new “Pathways to Success” program seeks to speed up the process of providers assuming risk for costs and outcomes through the following changes from the agency’s current approach. A reduction in how long participating ACOs can remain in the program without assuming some responsibility for their spending. Modifications that CMS hopes will encourage physician groups to remain independent of hospitals and health systems. Greater flexibility to innovate [...]

MedPAC Issues 2018 Report to Congress

The non-partisan legislative branch agency that advises Congress and the administration on Medicare payment policies has submitted its mandatory annual report to Congress. Among the findings included in the report by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission are: Medicare’s hospital readmissions reduction program has not resulted in increases in emergency room visits or hospital observation stays. Many Medicare accountable care organizations, while maintaining or improving quality, are producing more modest savings than predicted. MedPAC approves of Medicare’s proposals to redesign the case-mix classification system for skilled nursing facilities. MedPAC supports changes Medicare has proposed for patient assessment and therapy requirements for [...]

MedPAC Meets

Last week the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission held two days of public meetings in Washington, D.C. During the sessions MedPAC, a non-partisan legislative branch agency that advises Congress on Medicare payment issues, addressed the following subjects: a Medicare Advantage status report a Medicare prescription drug program (Part D) status report hospital inpatient and outpatient payments physician payments ambulatory surgical center, dialysis center, and hospice payments post-acute care facility payments the hospital readmissions reduction program telehealth accountable care organizations Go here to see the issue briefs and presentations used during the meetings.

Reduced Hospitalizations and Improved Care for High-Risk Patients Not Driving ACO Savings

Medicare savings reported in the early years of the Medicare Shared Savings Program are not coming from reduced hospitalizations of high-risk Medicare patients or even through better coordination of care for those patients. Instead, Medicare accountable care organization savings are coming mostly from better and more coordinated care for low-risks Medicare ACO participants. These surprising findings are reported in the article “Medicare ACO Program Savings Not Tied To Preventable Hospitalizations Or Concentrated Among High-Risk Patients,” which can be found in the December 2017 edition of the journal Health Affairs.  Find a link to that article here.

2017-12-19T06:00:35+00:00December 19, 2017|Accountable Care Organization, ACO, Medicare, Medicare regulations|

Medicare ACOs Showing Promise

Medicare’s Shared Savings Program and its accountable care organizations are showing promise as a means of reducing Medicare spending and improving the quality or care. Or so concludes the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General. According to a new OIG report, Over the first 3 years of the program, 428 participating Shared Savings Program ACOs served 9.7 million beneficiaries. During that time, most of these ACOs reduced Medicare spending compared to their benchmarks, achieving a net spending reduction of nearly $1 billion. At the same time, ACOs generally improved the quality of care they [...]

2017-09-07T06:00:13+00:00September 7, 2017|Accountable Care Organization, ACO, Medicare|

Programs, Not Penalties, Drive Readmission Reductions

Participating in federal value-based payment programs does more to reduce hospital readmissions than penalties levied on hospitals with too many readmissions. Or so reports a new study published by JAMA Internal Medicine. According to the study, hospitals that participated in one or more of three Medicare value-based payment programs ­– its meaningful use of electronic health records program, the bundled payment for care initiative, or an accountable care organization (ACO) program – enjoyed bigger decreases in their avoidable Medicare readmissions than hospitals that participated in no such programs but were only subject to financial penalties levied under the Medicare hospital [...]

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