Medicare gives first glimpse of ACO quality performance

The CMS for the first time publicly released individual performance data for Medicare accountable care organizations on 33 measures of healthcare quality. 

The results for 220 of the participants (PDF) in the Medicare Shared Savings Program reveal how ACOs performed on measures (PDF) of patient experience and preventive care and disease management for some of the leading causes of death among U.S. elderly, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes. 

Quality measures have been a point of contention for Medicare's accountable-care effort since it first began. Hospitals and doctors rejected an early proposal for 65 measures, which the CMS shaved to 33. Federal officials earlier this summer proposed an increase to 37 measures with some existing measures to be swapped for others.

The program's financial incentives reward hospitals and medical groups that can slow the growth in medical expenses, but only if providers also meet targets for quality. For patients and policymakers, the quality measures serve as a check against the temptation for hospitals and doctors to withhold medical care in order to meet cost benchmarks tied to financial bonuses. 

The CMS last week reported aggregate quality performance for more than 200 participating ACOs through last December. 

Collectively, they scored better than other providers on 17 of the 22 quality measures for which there is comparable data. Public reporting on the performance of individual ACOs has so far been limited to five quality measures reported at The CMS also released results of each ACOs' financial performance last week: 53 of them reduced the cost of patients' care enough to share $300 million in bonuses. 

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