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CMS tweaks shared savings program to add more time, options for ACOs

December 2, 2014
by Pamela Tabar, Editor-in-Chief
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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is proposing changes to the Medicare Shared Savings Program (SSP) that would allow participating accountable care organizations (ACOs) more time before accepting risk burdens and would add a new track option to the program, according to an announcement released late Monday.

Under the original SSP, ACOs had only one agreement period to transition to a two-sided risk model. The proposed changes would extend the timeframe to two agreement periods.

CMS is exploring different ways to handle benchmarking and beneficiary assignments, striving to include a wider range of care professionals and a greater focus on primary care. Of the 330 ACOs currently using the SSP in its first year, only 58 had kept their expenditures low enough to earn the shared savings.

The agency is proposing to add a third track to the SSP model that combined aspects of Track 1 and Track 2 but changes the way beneficiaries are assigned to the program. The proposed Track 3 includes higher quality sharing rates and a minimum loss rate fixed at 2.0.

For more information, see the complete chart of current rules and proposed changes on the CMS website.