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Now open: CMS launches application period for '24 Shared Savings ACO program

Mark your calendar if you're interested in entering a value-based care arrangement through the Medicare Shared Savings Program, the federal government's largest accountable care organization (ACO) network. The deadline to apply for 2024 is June 15.
In 2023, some 456 Shared Savings ACOs are operating nationally, covering nearly 11 million beneficiaries. The Shared Savings program offers provider networks various levels of risk -- and potential revenue opportunities. There are two tracks: The BASIC track, which has four sub-levels of risk/reward arrangements, and the ENHANCED track, which presents the highest potential return on cost-savings.
The amount of savings that ACO networks can generate can be substantial. In performance year 2021, when 477 ACOs took part in the program, they garnered $2 billion in savings. Most of the ACOs currently participating in the program are in two-sided risk arrangements, where money can be won -- or lost. About 35% of program participants are in the ENHANCED track, which returns up to 75% revenue on total cost-savings. Another 28% are in the highest level of the BASIC track (Level E), delivering up to a 50% return on savings.
CMS expects several program updates that were announced in the final 2023 Medicare physician fee schedule to fuel a surge in participants in 2024. That includes the Advance Investment Payments (AIP) model, which provides eligible ACOs with an upfront payment of up to $250,000 along with quarterly payments for a two-year period. 
"Advance investment payments are intended to encourage low revenue ACOs that are inexperienced with risk to participate in the Shared Savings Program and to provide additional resources to such ACOs to support care improvement for underserved beneficiaries," CMS states in an overview of the AIP.
Networks that are interested in AIP must be new to the Shared Savings Program and "low revenue" and "inexperienced" with value-based programs.
CMS opened the application period on May 18 and it will run through June 15 at noon (E.T.). You can learn more about the application timeline here, and access the application toolkit online.
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