HHS selects 32 providers as ACO pioneers
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Thirty-two healthcare organizations from across the country will participate in a new Pioneer Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) initiative made possible by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The Pioneer ACO initiative will encourage primary care doctors, specialists, hospitals and other caregivers to provide better, more coordinated care for Medicare patients and could save up to $1.1 billion over five years, the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services stated.

Under this initiative, operated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation Center, Medicare will reward groups of healthcare providers that have formed ACOs based on how well they are able to both improve the health of their Medicare patients and lower their healthcare costs.

The initiative will test the effectiveness of several innovative payment models and how they can help experienced organizations provide better care for beneficiaries, work in coordination with private payors and reduce Medicare cost growth.

The Pioneer ACO model requires ACOs to engage other payors in similar efforts to reward healthcare providers that deliver high-quality care. The model also includes strict beneficiary protections, including the ability for patients to seek care from any Medicare provider they wish.

Selected Pioneer ACOs include physician-led organizations and health systems, urban and rural organizations, and organizations in various geographic regions of the country, representing 18 states.

The first performance period of the Pioneer ACO Model will begin Jan. 1, 2012.