Accountable care organizations participating in the Medicare Shared Savings Program generated $466 million in savings in 2015, up from $411 million in 2014, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced.

Despite the growth in savings, there was little growth in the number of ACOs that qualified for bonus payments based on the savings they were able to generate.

Of 392 participants in Medicare Shared Savings Program and 12 Pioneer ACO Model participants, 31% (125) received bonus payments in 2015, as compared with 27% (97 organizations from a pool of 20 Pioneer ACOs and 333 ACO shared savings program participants) in 2014, according to a CMS report .

The agency noted that another 83 ACOs in the Shared Savings Program and two Pioneer ACOs generated savings in 2015 but did not qualify for bonus payments. Of the four Pioneer ACOs that recorded losses, only one incurred losses great enough to require payment to CMS.

On the quality side, the mean quality score among Pioneer ACOs increased to 92% in 2015, the fourth year of the program, up from 87% in 2014. Quality scores have risen each year, with a growth of 21% from the first year.

Participants in the Shared Savings Program that reported quality measures in both 2014 and 2015 improved on 84% of the quality measures that were reported in both years. In four measures – screening risk for future falls, depression screening and follow-up, blood pressure screening and follow-up, and administering pneumonia vaccine – the average quality performance improvement was more than 15% year-over-year.

The National Association of ACOs said it was “disappointed” in the small bump in financial bonuses.

“The results are not as strong as we, and many of our ACO members, had hoped for,” NAACOS President and CEO Clif Gaus, ScD , said in a statement. “But overall, we are pleased to see the results show a positive trend for the program,” noting that despite being only a few years old, the the participating ACOs “have accomplished a lot to reduce cost and improve quality.”

gtwachtman@frontlinemedcom.com

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