All of the 32 health systems in the so-called Pioneer Accountable Care Organization program improved patient care on quality measures such as cancer screenings and controlling blood pressure, according to data to be released Tuesday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. But only 18 of the 32 managed to lower costs for the Medicare patients they treated—a major goal of the effort.Two hospitals lost money on the program in the first year. Seven have notified CMS that they intend to move to another program where they will face less financial risk. Two others have indicated they intend to leave the program, CMS says, but it declined to identify them.
When we last covered ACOs, we expressed hoped that they could be a source of savings but noted, “These kind of organizations are still in the experimental phase, which makes Obamacare’s embrace of them premature. This may turn out to be (yet another) challenge for Obamacare’s implementation.” The ACOs in the pilot program still have two more years to reach their benchmarks, but based on the first year data it looks like we were right.