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Medicare Spending Down in Year One of Pioneer ACO

Total adjusted per-beneficiary spending down in ACO group versus control group

THURSDAY, April 16, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Medicare spending is down in year one of the Pioneer accountable care organization (ACO) program, according to a study published online April 15 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

J. Michael McWilliams, M.D., Ph.D., from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues compared Medicare spending for beneficiaries attributed to Pioneer ACOs (ACO group) with other beneficiaries (control group) before (2009 through 2011) and after (2012) the start of Pioneer ACO contracts. Spending was adjusted for geographic area and beneficiaries' sociodemographic and clinical characteristics. Differential changes in spending were assessed for several subgroups of ACOs.

The researchers found that during the pre-contract period, adjusted Medicare spending and spending trends were similar in the ACO and control groups. In 2012, there was a change in the total adjusted per-beneficiary spending in the ACO group versus the control group (−$29.2 per quarter; P = 0.007), representing a 1.2 percent savings. Greater savings were seen for ACOs with baseline spending above the local average versus below the local average (P = 0.05 for interaction) and for those serving high-spending areas versus low-spending areas (P = 0.04).

"Year one of the Pioneer ACO program was associated with modest reductions in Medicare spending," the authors write.

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