The National Rural Accountable Care Consortium, based in Nevada City, Calif., says it has formed five additional ACOs in 2015 for rural providers following in the steps of the first ACO started in 2014.

Consortium executives said the organization's model has enabled 28 rural and critical access hospitals, 42 rural health clinics, 12 federally qualified health centers and nine private physician practices in 30 rural health systems "to afford and qualify" for the Medicare Shared Savings Program. Consortium members serve more than 65,000 attributed Medicare beneficiaries in nine states.

The Consortium provides comprehensive services including claims data access and analysis, evidence-based medicine leadership, care coordination coaching, and governance, legal, and compliance services.

"The Consortium's unique model of collaboration is the first of its kind to enable rural providers to receive higher reimbursement for improving the care they deliver," said Tim Putnam, CEO of Margaret Mary Hospital in Batesville, Ind., and board chair for the first National Rural ACO. "We can access the same type of powerful data, waivers, and programs that urban ACO's can for about the same cost as it would be to hire one person to figure out how to get into the program."

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