Editor’s Desk

ACOs Produce Good Cost and Quality Results

Peter Wehrwein

Maybe, just maybe, accountable care organizations (ACOs) are the best bet for hitting the health care exacta of controlling costs and improving the quality of care.

Figures released by CMS on September 16 showed that the 23 organizations in the elite Pioneer program and 220 in the Shared Savings program produced over $372 million in savings while earning $445 million in shared savings payments.

As a group, the Pioneer ACOs improved on 28 of the 33 quality measures that CMS grades ACOs on. The Shared Savings ACOs improved on 30 of them. CMS also reported that the Pioneers did well on measures of patient and caregiver experience, an indication that the cost and quality efforts don’t result in a leaner, but meaner, form of health care.

These figures are preliminary results from the second year of the Pioneer program and from the first year Shared Savings program.

The ACO news isn’t all sunshine and light. Three of the Pioneer ACOs generated losses, and Sharp Healthcare, a five-hospital system in San Diego, announced in August that it was leaving the program. One of the Shared Savings ACOs overspent its target by $10 million and owes $4 million in shared losses. CMS didn’t name the three Pioneers or the one Shared Savings ACO in its press release.

Peter Wehrwein is a frequent contributor to Managed Care.