On October 20, 2011, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released its final rule for Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) participation in the Medicare Shared Savings Program. With this rule, in response to concerns related to start up costs associated with ACOs, CMS has also announced the creation of its Advance Payment Model, which is scheduled to commence in 2012. The Advance Payment Model was created to assist participants in the Share Savings Program that may not have the necessary funds to become and ACO (e.g. physician-owned hospitals and rural providers). These participants would be advanced future payments, which would later be recouped from future shared savings. However, if the ACO fails to complete the full agreement period or earned shared savings then it will be required to return the advance payment. An ACO would receive future payments in three ways: (1) an upfront, fixed payment, (2) an upfront, variable payment, and (3) a variable monthly payment.
The Advance Payment Model may be available to two types of organizations participating in the Shared Savings Program: (1) ACOs that do not include any inpatient facilities AND have less than $50 million in total annual revenue; and (2) ACOs in which the only inpatient facilities are critical access hospitals and/or Medicare low-volume rural hospitals AND have less than $80 million in total annual revenue. ACOs that are co-owned by a health plan will not be eligible to participate. Participants of Pioneer ACOs will also be ineligible. CMS expects to select approximately 50 ACOs that meet the above eligibility requirements to receive funding.
The Advance Payment Model will only be available for ACOs beginning participation in the Medicare Shared Savings Program in either April 2012 or July 2012.
ACOs interested in applying for the Advance Payment Model, will first need to apply for participation in the Medicare Shared Savings Program. Applications for the Advance Payment Model are expected to be available in late Fall 2011.
If you need assistance in applying for the Advance Payment Model, structuring an ACO, or have any questions regarding ACO participation in the Medicare Shared Savings Program, please contact a Wachler & Associates attorney at 248-544-0888.