The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has extended its deadlines for letters of intent and applications to participate in Medicare's Pioneer Accountable Care Organization Model demonstration program for at least five years.

The deadline for organizations to file a letter of intent is moved from June 10 to June 30. The deadline for submitting an application is moved from July 18 to August 19. A CMS spokesperson declined to say how many letters of intent have been received as that is considered "procurement sensitive," but notes that low interest in the program was not the reason for extending the deadlines.

"The CMS Innovation Center is very pleased with the level of interest in the Pioneer ACO Model and with the number of letters of intent we have already received," according to an e-mail to Health Data Management. "However, we have received many requests from interested parties to extend the deadlines for the letters of intent and the applications, and believe that given the broad interest in the program, it would be appropriate to allow more time. We note that a conference call yesterday to provide more information to interested parties about the Pioneer ACO Model attracted over 850 participants."

A tape recording of the call, available through June 9, is available at 1-800-642-1687; ask for call number 70961782.

According to a May 17 notice announcing the demonstration program, "To be eligible to participate in the Pioneer ACO Model, organizations would ideally already be coordinating care for a significant portion of patients under financial risk sharing contracts and be positioned to transform both their care and financial models from fee-for-service to a three part value based model."

CMS expects about 30 organizations will test the ACO model with a minimum of 15,000 Medicare beneficiaries each except for rural sites which will have at least 5,000 beneficiaries.

The CMS Innovation Center also seeks public comment on an "Advance Payment Initiative" enabling certain ACOs participating in the Medicare Shared Savings Program access to their shared savings up front to make infrastructure and staffing investments.


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