(This story was corrected on July 18, 2013.)
Atrius Health, an alliance of several physician practices in eastern Massachusetts, is one of nearly two dozen accountable care organizations that agreed to stick with Medicare's test of the promising but unproven model.
Atrius is also one of two organizations to see a financial loss during the experiment's first year, according to preliminary results.
Beginning in the second year, all Pioneer ACOs in the CMS Innovation Center's Pioneer ACO Model must pay Medicare back if spending accelerates beyond a target. Some Pioneer ACOs opted for payments in year one with no risk for losses. Atrius, though, may owe Medicare $2 million for the first year, according to an estimate, said Emily Brower, executive director for Atrius' accountable care programs.
Atrius found savings more difficult to come by than others because of Medicare's extremely low budget” for the ACO to begin with, said Dr. Gene Lindsey, president and CEO for the network of multispecialty physician groups. Atrius had already adopted cost-control measures that left the organization without easy savings.