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CMS Innovation Center announces ACO PC Flex model to improve access for Medicare beneficiaries

This week, our In Focus section looks at the voluntary Accountable Care Organization Primary Care Flex (ACO PC Flex) Model, which the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation Center announced on March 19, 2024. This model is designed to increase the number of low revenue ACOs in the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP). Model participants will receive a one-time advanced shared savings payment and monthly prospective population-based payments. The ACO PC Flex Model is intended aims to support care delivery transformation, innovation, and team-based approaches to improve quality and reduce costs of care.

The ACO PC Flex Model is structured to increase the number of low revenue ACOs (i.e., ACOs composed of physicians, a small hospital, and/or serve rural areas). CMS published results in August 2022 indicating  that low revenue ACOs generated $113 more per capita savings than their high revenue counterparts.  CMS wrote in July of 2023 that the agency was seeking new opportunities for ACOs to serve Medicare beneficiaries. With this model, the Innovation Center is providing flexible payment to support innovative, team-based, person-centered, and proactive approaches to care for a subset of ACOs that have historically generated savings.

ACO PC Flex Model payments are structured to provide advanced shared savings to support administrative activities necessary for the model and ongoing payments specifically for primary care. The payment approach includes:

  • A monthly prospective primary care payment consisting of 1) a county base rate determined by average primary care spending, and 2) payment enhancements to support increased access to primary care, provision of care, and care coordination, which are exempt from CMS recoupment
  • An advanced shared savings payment as a one-time advance the changes needed to support needed operations and administration

With the approach, the Innovation Center anticipates CMS will be able to improve access to primary care services, particularly for underserved communities, and empower providers through flexible, stable payments to innovate care delivery to better meet their patients’ needs.

The demonstration will start January 1, 2025, and run for five years. The request for applicants (RFA) is expected in the second quarter of 2024, and ACOs must apply for participation in MSSP as a new or renewing organization to be eligible for ACO PC Flex. Applications for MSSP close June 17, 2024.

More details are expected to be included in the RFA. If you are interested learning more about the ACO PC Flex Model, please contact Amy Bassano and Melissa Mannon.

Meet the HMA blog contributors

Amy Bassano

Amy Bassano

Managing Director, Medicare
Washington, DC
Melissa Mannon

Melissa Mannon, MPP

Associate Principal
Washington, DC