The hope that accountable care would rapidly diffuse across the healthcare landscape to help reduce costs suffered another setback when federal officials last week admitted few Medicare ACOs are ready to assume financial risk.
To keep existing ACOs from dropping out, the CMS proposed an expanded menu of incentives to keep hospitals and doctors involved while postponing when providers would actually face potential losses for three more years.
The move left some ACO advocates fearful that providers may simply wind up taking advantage of the program, even as they applauded the government’s efforts to keep hospitals and physicians involved.
“It makes sense to allow them more than three years to develop the capabilities and the confidence to control spending,” said Dr. J. Michael McWilliams, an associate professor of health policy at Harvard University. “It is a good idea to allow ACOs to evolve and develop infrastructure.
”It’s hardly what the Obama administration expected when it launched the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s Medicare ACO program and set a goal for all ACOs to accept risk of losses after the first three years.