According to CMS, these groups, whose participation in the ACO model went into effect April 1, serve 375,000 patients in 18 states. Five of the 27 groups have opted for the Advance Payment ACO Model, which offers money up front to rural and physician-based ACOs so they can better develop the infrastructure needed to improve care coordination.
The MSSP ACO model differs from the previously announced Pioneer ACO Model. The 32 participants in the latter program, representing 18 states and about 860,000 Medicare patients, take on higher levels of risk (and reward) than those in the former program. In addition, the Pioneer ACO program is now closed, whereas CMS is evaluating about 150 applications for a July 1 start to the MSSP ACO model program and accepting applications for a Jan. 1, 2013 start.
The concept of the accountable care organization as an alternative to the fee-for-service method of providing care was introduced in the health reform law of 2010, with the Pioneer ACO Model announced in the spring of 2011 and the MSSP ACO model following in the fall.