Earlier this month, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that since the first of July, there have been 88 newly-formed Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) serving 1.2 million people with Medicare in 40 states and Washington, D.C. The 88 new ACOs have entered into agreements with the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to take responsibility for the coordinated care they provide to Medicare patients, which is expected to result in cost savings on their end.

Initiatives related to Accountable Care Organizations, such as the Shared Savings Program, are a part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Some estimate federal savings over the next four years could reach nearly a billion dollars.

“This new group of ACOs adds to a solid foundation,” said CMS Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “The Medicare ACO program opened for business in January, and already, more than 2.4 million beneficiaries are receiving care from providers participating in these important initiatives.”

The 88 ACOs announced this month brings the total to 153, including the 32 ACOs participating in the testing of the Pioneer ACO Model by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (Innovation Center) and six Physician Group Practice Transition Demonstration organizations that started in January 2011.  With the most recent ACO additions, more than 2.4 million beneficiaries are receiving care from providers who participate in Medicare shared savings initiatives.

CMS has also announced that starting this year, new ACO applications will be accepted on an annual basis. The application period for organizations that want to participate in the Shared Savings Program beginning in January 2013 is  August 1 to September 6, 2012.