In 2012, CMS’ Pioneer accountable care organization (ACO) program was launched in 32 health care organizations. Researchers from three Boston-area institutions — Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center — collaborated to see how the various ACOs performed in the first year of the program. Here is the headline from the AAFP e-newsletter:
Sounds awesome, right? Now the results:
- 13 ACOs that left the Pioneer program after 2012 and 19 ACOs
- In 2012, the per-beneficiary spending in the ACO group decreased by $29.2 per quarter for an overall savings of 1.2 percent.
- Regarding changes in performance on quality measures in the ACO group compared with the control group, study authors reported either small but significant improvements or no significant change.
- When aggregated to the entire ACO population, total Medicare spending was about $118 million lower than expected, “a sum that falls between the actuarial calculation of $87 million by the CMS and an estimate of $147 million in a previous evaluation”.
- “Our estimate exceeds the $76 million in bonuses paid by CMS to Pioneer ACOs by $42 million.”
And now the cherry on top of the sundae:
- Researchers listed several study limitations, including that their estimate of savings did not include CMS’ costs to administer an ACO program or the costs incurred by ACOs to implement strategies to limit spending.
- 40% of the ACOs quit!
- A savings of 1.2 %
- No change in performance
- No one cared to look at how much this cost to administer
Does this sound worth it to anyone? Well, yes, the AAFP loves it. Reread their headline from above. Can they be more biased or clueless?
(The image on above is their renew icon for me to hit. Not.)Tweet