After One Year, Physician-run ACO Scores Big Savings Bonus

Of $22 Million Saved Overall, $11 Million Goes to Member Physicians

Health care policy experts have cautioned that making the transition away from a fee-for-service payment model will be a marathon, not a sprint, yet one accountable care organization (ACO) in Florida has moved quickly out of the gate. 

Founded in 2012, the Palm Beach ACO has a 3 1/2 year contract with Medicare. The organization cares for about 36,000 patients and includes physicians from Palm Beach, Broward and Dade counties in South Florida.

More than 75 percent of physicians in the ACO are solo practitioners. There are a total of 240 physicians in the network, and 120 are in primary care. Physicians are free to join and can leave at any time. The organization has no formal hospital affiliation.

Of the initial 114 ACOs that participated in the Medicare Shared Savings Program, the Palm Beach ACO was one of 29 that exceeded savings projections. It saved $22 million during its first year and received about $11 million in shared shavings. When combined with shared savings generated by the other 28 ACOs and parceled out among those ACOs' participants, each member physician's share came to about $63,000, according to a recent article( in JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association.

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