News Release

Spending to Save—Accountable Care Organizations and the Medicare Shared Savings Program

NEJM Perspective: Providers Should Consider ACOs More Than a Short-Term Business Opportunity Media Advisory

WASHINGTON , DC—While criticism that the government set the bar too high for accountable care organizations (ACOs) has been fast and furious, the proposed rule for the Shared Savings Program is a wake-up call that Medicare is serious about achieving better care for individuals, better health for populations and lower growth in expenditures, according to a perspective by Paul B. Ginsburg, president of the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC), published online today in the New England Journal of Medicine.While constructive comments on the proposed rule can help the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) “achieve its triple aim in a more workable manner, CMS shouldn’t be too quick to lower the ACO bar too far: the initial ACO opportunity should not be for everybody,” according to the article.

Much of the criticism of the proposed rule centers on providers contending they will have to invest too much to improve care delivery without enough assurance of a financial upside.

“But providers should consider ACOs as more than a short-term business opportunity. The shift from volume-driven to value-driven payment is inevitable, and getting limited shared savings while embarking on the needed investments to build the infrastructure and relationships for improving delivery is better than getting no rewards under the fee-for-service system. It may be better to spend now in order to save later and avoid the consequences of the inevitable ratcheting down of fee-for-service rates,” the article states.

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The National Institute for Health Care Reform (NIHCR) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization created by the International Union, UAW; Chrysler Group LLC; Ford Motor Company; and General Motors. Between 2009 and 2013, NIHCR contracted with the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) to conduct high-quality, objective research and policy analyses of the organization, financing and delivery of health care in the United States. HSC ceased operations on Dec. 31, 2013, after merging with Mathematica Policy Research, which assumed the HSC contract to complete NIHCR projects.