As Next Generation ACO Deadlines Loom,
Organizations Assess Risk Tolerance

Although letters of intent for the next round of CMS's Next Generation ACOs are due in just three weeks, accountable care organizations applying to this program are not committed to joining until December 2016, Healthcare Strategy Group reminded participants during Next Generation ACO: An Organizational Readiness Assessment, an April 2016 webinar now available for replay.

Next Generation ACO: An Organizational Readiness AssessmentBecause the three-part NGACO application—letter of intent, or LOI (due May 2), the Next Generation ACO application (due May 25) and the participating provider list (due June 3)—are all non-binding, Healthcare Strategy Group's Travis Ansel, senior manager of strategic services, and Walter Hankwitz, senior accountable care advisor, encouraged organizations with any interest in CMS's latest ACO model to submit these items to CMS while continuing to evaluate whether the Next Generation ACO program is right for them.

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In regards to the NGACO provider list, there are two important considerations, Hankwitz added. First, while non-binding, the provider list cannot be revised once submitted.

Second, as the provider list pertains to the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), if a participant's name, be it a physician or an allied health professional, is not on the provider list submitted by June 3, that provider will not be eligible to be qualified for PQRS through the ACO the following year.

"They do have to submit their PQRS information," said Hankwitz. "It's very critical that you develop your network, have your network in place completely, and have every participant documented specifically on that list for June 3."

In their comprehensive NGACO assessment, the pair walked through the five key elements of the model, including attribution, benchmarks, the risk/savings corridor, provider payments, and waivers and beneficiaries. "In evaluating the Next Generation ACO proposition, organizations need to ask themselves if they have the bandwidth to administer this new, complex, high-risk program," advised Ansel.

In addition, they proposed a list of 17 key NGACO assessment questions organizations should answer to help determine their readiness for participation. This checklist covers program prerequisites, performance and population health management, among other NGACO areas.

There are currently 20 Next Generation ACOs, most of whom were Pioneer ACOs or Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) participants, the consultants said.

You can "attend" this program right in your office and learn about the key considerations your organization should examine to determine if you should apply to participate in the Next Generation ACO program for 2017. It's so convenient! Invite your staff members to watch the conference. We will send you a DVD or CD-ROM of the conference proceedings or a link to our web site with a username and password. You can log in and view the program right from your computer — any time of the day or night, whenever convenient for you and your colleagues — and benefit from the archived recording of the conference, including the Q&A period.

You'll get to listen to the question and answer session to hear: the key NGACO barriers and how to overcome them; whether the NGACO program qualifies as an alternative payment model under the Medicare Access and Chip Reauthorization Act; the timing of CMS benchmark data for the NGACO participants; and chief concerns among the early NGACO programs.

To register for the on-demand re-broadcast, download an .MP3 file or order the training DVD or CD-ROM of Next Generation ACO: An Organizational Readiness Assessment, please visit:

P.S. -- You may also be interested in these ACO resources: