Despite Limited Commercial Impact, Vermont’s ACO Test Delivers Results in Medicare

Vermont’s all-payer accountable care organization (ACO), OneCare Vermont (OCV), has reduced Medicare costs but has had minimal impact on the state’s Medicaid and commercial segments, a new report commissioned by CMS says. However, the state’s largest carrier — nonprofit commercial insurer Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont (BCBSVT) — withdrew from the program at the end of the 2022 plan year and does not currently plan to return.

The report, prepared by NORC at the University of Chicago on behalf of the CMS Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), focused most of its cost and quality improvement analysis on Medicare. The report did not make any quantitative assessments of OneCare Vermont’s impact on the commercial market. NORC found that the ACO reduced gross spending for Medicare enrollees by $686.40 per member per year, or 6.2% per year, during the first four years of implementation, resulting in a $124.9 million net reduction of Medicare spending during those years, a drop of 5.7%. However, quality improvement and utilization assessments were more difficult to make due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which distorted utilization patterns during 2020 and 2021.

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Peter Johnson

Peter Johnson

Peter has worked as a journalist since 2011 and has covered health care since 2020. At AIS Health, Peter covers trends in finance, business and policy that affect the health insurance and pharma sectors. For Health Plan Weekly, he covers all aspects of the U.S. health insurance sector, including employer-sponsored insurance, Medicaid managed care, Medicare Advantage and the Affordable Care Act individual marketplaces. In Radar on Drug Benefits, Peter covers the operations of (and conflicts between) pharmacy benefit managers and pharmaceutical manufacturers, with a particular focus on pricing dynamics and market access. Before joining AIS Health, Peter covered transportation, public safety and local government for various outlets in Seattle, his hometown and current place of residence. He graduated with a B.A. from Colby College.

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