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Awaiting the Medicare Shared Savings Program Regulations: Progress on the Road to Accountable Care?

by Douglas A. Hastings

According to the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”), Dr. Donald M. Berwick, the long-awaited proposed regulations implementing the Medicare Shared Savings Program should be out soon. Given the incredible proliferation of policy, business, and legal thinking about accountable care organizations (“ACOs”) that has taken place since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) less than a year ago, CMS’s initial effort to describe a program of payment and delivery reform built around the ACO “model” will contribute importantly to the national dialogue on accountable care and will give providers a first look at CMS’s detailed requirements for the Medicare Shared Savings Program.

What, then, are some of the key issues that the regulations are likely to address by which we can evaluate the Medicare Shared Savings Program’s potential progress on the road to accountable care? The way CMS further defines ACOs and structures the Medicare Shared Savings Program, including possible risk sharing features, will not only ultimately determine the success of the Medicare ACO program but will also no doubt affect the shape of burgeoning ACO efforts at the state level for Medicaid programs and in the commercial market.

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