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October 2, 2013

How the Pioneer ACO Model Needs to Change: Lessons From Its Best-Performing ACO

Author Affiliations
  • 1Thedacare Center for Healthcare Value, Appleton, Wisconsin
  • 2Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California
  • 3Division of Health Policy and Management, University of California-Berkeley School of Public Health
JAMA. 2013;310(13):1341-1342. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.279149

On July 16, 2013, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation released results from the first performance year of its Pioneer Accountable Care Organization (ACO) Model. The Pioneer program is the first ACO pilot administered by the government and the first to report results. This important experiment may offer lessons for how to avoid Medicare’s predicted fiscal crisis. Even short of that, however, the findings demonstrate that, for the experiment to ultimately succeed, value-based payment and patient incentives to reward clinicians and health care organizations that offer more real value to patients must spread rapidly to other payers. Otherwise, the very delivery systems that are improving cost and quality may drop out of these important experiments.