The advances will fund capital investment and hiring at ACOs with fewer than 10,000 patients that want to participate in the Medicare Shared Savings program. In addition to physician groups, all critical-access hospitals will be eligible for the program. The CMS also will consider applications from hospitals with up to 100 beds.
The new program, called the ACO Investment Model, is administered by the CMS' Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation, the policy laboratory created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to test new ways to deliver and pay for healthcare.
ACOs that sign up for the new model would receive a loan and additional monthly payouts, which would be paid back with deductions from bonuses they earn under the program. The CMS is also offering the loans to existing Medicare ACOs that may be poised to exit. A number of Pioneer ACOs have dropped out of the program. The total cost of advance payments is projected to be $114 million.