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Early results from Medicaid ACO programs show promise

Three states experience savings; more to jump on board

For the past few years, skeptics have questioned whether accountable care organizations (ACOs) actually meet their goal of creating long-term savings. Early results from Medicaid ACO programs in Colorado, Oregon and Minnesota may prove them wrong, according to a blog post from the Commonwealth Fund.

Colorado, an early Medicaid ACO adopter, launched its Regional Care Collaborative Organizations in 2011. While the program only shares in savings--members are not yet at financial risk for improving quality and lowering costs--Colorado has saved as much as $33 million over three years.

In 2012, Oregon unveiled its Coordinated Care Organization program on the basis that the CCOs are responsible for most Medicaid beneficiaries in a given area, noted the blog post. The state designed the program to assume full financial risk of the beneficiaries by managing their physical, behavioral and oral health needs. Additionally, CCOs were able to drive down overall inpatient and outpatient costs, even though primary care costs increased.

Minnesota, meanwhile, launched its Integrated Health Partnerships initiative in 2013. The program served nearly 100,000 residents and saved $10.5 million across all six of its initial provider participants in its first year.

Early evidence from the three programs is a step in the right direction, as more states are turning to ACOs to hold down Medicaid costs. The Center for Health Care Strategies formed a collaborative of six states--Colorado, Iowa, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Rhode Island and Washington--to learn from one another's results.

What's more, it's clear ACOs will have a place in the industry. This week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services launched the "Next Generation Accountable Care Organization" model, which will give participants more predictable financial targets and greater opportunities to coordinate care and engage beneficiaries, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

For more:
- here's the blog post

Related Articles:
CMS announces 'Next Generation' accountable care organization model
'Next Generation' ACOs: How they differ from Pioneer, MSSP models
More states turn to ACOs to hold down Medicaid costs