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Medicare Shared Savings Program begins

May 3, 2012

The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) launched its highly touted Shared Saving Program April 1. The agency is scheduled to release the names of participating accountable care organizations (ACOs) soon.

Authorized under the Affordable Care Act, the Medicare Shared Saving Program will return a portion of savings to a federally authorized ACO that the ACO generates for the Medicare program as long as the individuals and entities delivering care for the ACO meet designated quality-of-care standards.

A second Shared Saving Program reporting period is set to begin July 1, 2012.

The CMS is scheduled to announce the participating ACOs for that period late this spring, following a March 30 application deadline.

The CMS is scheduled to post an updated Shared Saving Program application form this spring for use by ACOs that wish to take part in the program’s third reporting period, which begins Jan. 1, 2013. Applications for that reporting period will be accepted through Nov. 30, 2012, with participants announced just before the end of the year.

Neither federal rules for ACOs nor the Shared Savings Program require participation by optometrists. However, the program’s strong emphasis on primary and preventive care delivered through high coordinated care teams effectively may encourage it, according to the AOA Advocacy Group.

Health care practitioners interested in the Medicare Shared Saving Program can find new information – including an updated edition of the Shared Savings Program Quality Measures and Performance Standards – on the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Shared Saving Program website (www.cms.gov/sharedsavingsprogram).

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