For their first year, ACOs see varied scores in quality measures

Quality varied widely among Medicare accountable care organizations during their first year, with a few earning millions of dollars in bonuses but scoring below average on all but a handful of quality measures. 

On Sept. 23, federal officials posted the first published quality results for more than 200 ACOs with one year of results in Medicare's Shared Savings Program. The organizations are among the first to accept new Medicare incentives under the health reform law that reward hospitals and medical groups if they treat patients at less expense while meeting quality targets. 

In the first year, they earned bonuses for simply reporting quality scores to CMS. Fifty-three of them earned a combined $300 million by aggressively reducing medical costs. To ensure those efforts also lead to better care, the program calls for ACOs to achieve targets for 33 measures of quality, such as rates at which patients return to the hospital and rates of poorly controlled blood sugar and blood pressure among diabetics. 

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