Partners Media Center

  • Partners HealthCare Selected as 'Pioneer' ACO

Partners HealthCare Selected as 'Pioneer' ACO

Accountable Care Organization Model to Offer Better Care to Medicare Beneficiaries


BOSTON – Partners HealthCare has been selected to participate in a new Pioneer Accountable Care Organization (ACO) model.  The initiative, sponsored by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation Center, aims to transform the way that health care is delivered by providing Medicare patients with higher quality, while slowing cost growth through enhanced care coordination.

“Health care in this country is in the midst of an exciting and historic period of change,” said Gary L. Gottlieb, MD, President and CEO of Partners HealthCare.  “On behalf of our patients, we feel a deep sense of responsibility to lead the way when it comes to improving the delivery of care and addressing the question of affordability.  By partnering with CMS, we know we can make progress in both of these areas.”

The Pioneer ACO Model is designed to encourage the development of accountable care organizations, which are groups of doctors and other health care providers who work together to provide high quality care for their patients. Partners was chosen specifically as one in a diverse group of leading-edge health care organizations from around the country to test the effectiveness of several new models of payment.

“These Pioneer ACOs represent our nation’s leaders in health systems innovation, providing highly coordinated care for patients at lower costs,” said Marilyn Tavenner, Acting Administrator of CMS. Partners has demonstrated significant experience in providing high quality, coordinated care, and we are excited to partner with them.”

Under the Pioneer ACO Model, CMS will provide incentives for participating health care providers who form an organization to coordinate care for patients. Providers who band together through this model will be required to meet quality standards based upon, among other measures, patient outcomes and care coordination among the provider team.

CMS will use robust quality measures and other criteria to reward ACOs for providing beneficiaries with a positive patient experience and better health outcomes, while also rewarding Partners for reducing growth in Medicare expenditures for the same patient population.

Unlike a managed care plan, Medicare beneficiaries will not be locked into a restricted panel of providers. The Pioneer ACO Model is not a health plan or managed care plan. Under the Pioneer ACO Model, beneficiaries seeing doctors participating in an ACO will maintain the ability to see any doctor or health care provider, as well as the full benefits associated with traditional Medicare.

Today’s announcement was the culmination of a competitive selection process that began in May with the national release of a Request for Applications from CMS. The Pioneer ACO Model is one of a number of initiatives developed by CMS’ new Innovation Center, which was created by the Affordable Care Act to test new models of health care delivery and payment.

A History of Partnership

Partners has a history of partnering with CMS to improve care and reduce costs.  In 2006, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) launched the Care Management Program, one of six demonstration projects nationwide. During the three-year demonstration, MGH developed new strategies to improve the delivery of health care to its most vulnerable high risk patients, those with multiple health conditions and chronic disease.  The demonstration was so successful that in 2009 CMS renewed it; Partners expanded the initiative to Brigham and Women’s and North Shore Medical Center.  To learn more about the Care Management Program click here and here.

Partners HealthCare is an integrated health system founded by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital. In addition to its two academic medical centers, the Partners system includes community and specialty hospitals, community health centers, a physician network, home health and long-term care services, and other health care entities. Partners HealthCare is committed to patient care, research, teaching, and service to the community. Partners is one of the nation’s leading biomedical research organizations and a principal teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School. Partners HealthCare is a non-profit organization.



Media Contacts

Rich Copp
Phone: 617-278-1031

Search the Media Center