On January 29th, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reported an increased participation in its Accountable Care Organization (ACO) initiatives for 2024. Among the updates, CMS revealed the participation of 19 newly established ACOs in the Medicare Shared Savings Program that will engage in a new, permanent payment option in 2024. This initiative allows these ACOs to receive over $20 million in advance investment payments (AIPs) specifically for caring for underserved populations. 

50 new ACOs have joined the program in 2024, with 71 renewing their participation, bringing the total number of ACOs participating in the Shared Savings Program to 480. This program is the largest ACO initiative in the nation. CMS also highlighted that 245 organizations are continuing their engagement in two CMS Innovation Center models: the ACO Realizing Equity, Access, and Community Health (ACO REACH) and the Kidney Care Choices (KCC) models. 

ACOs are comprised of healthcare professionals collaborating to provide coordinated services with an opportunity to earn shared savings payments from CMS. Some ACO participants also accept financial risk. The new AIPs are intended to help participants meet high startup costs that have previously been a barrier to entry into the program. AIPs help the participants invest in healthcare infrastructure, staffing, and accountable care for underserved beneficiaries. 

In 2024, three key ACO initiatives continue to evolve, aiming to enhance the quality of care for Traditional Medicare beneficiaries: the Shared Savings Program, a permanent ACO program; the ACO REACH Model, designed to improve care access for underserved populations; and the Kidney Care Choices model, focusing on coordinating care for individuals with chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal disease. 

Furthermore, ACOs now serve nearly half of Traditional Medicare recipients, representing a 3% increase from the previous year. The growth in ACOs is particularly significant as these organizations have consistently demonstrated superior quality performance compared to similar physician groups not participating in ACOs, contributing to year-over-year savings for the Medicare Trust Fund. 

ADVOCATE will share additional information with clients and friends as it becomes available on this and other Federal Health Policies.   

Kirk Reinitz, President