The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) yesterday released a final rule on changes to the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) and provisions relating to Medicare payments to providers of services and suppliers participating in Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) under the MSSP.

Among other provisions, CMS finalized allowing non-risk-bearing ACOs to participate for an additional agreement period, changing the methodology for assigning beneficiaries to ACOs, creating a third track for MSSP participation, and providing additional data to help ACOs better manage care.

The changes generally apply to existing ACOs and approved ACO applicants participating in the program beginning Jan. 1, 2016.

“Yesterday’s rule makes some positive changes and provides additional flexibility to the MSSP,” said Linda Fishman, the AHA’s senior vice president of public policy analysis and development. “Hospitals are enthusiastic about the program as one pathway to advance their ongoing efforts to transform care delivery as a way to improve patient care and reduce costs. However, the program needs additional reforms to make it more attractive to new participants and existing ACOs.”

AHA members today received a Special Bulletin with further details.