Over the past decade, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have led the nationwide shift toward value-based payment. A major strategy for achieving this goal has been to implement alternative payment models (APMs) that encourage high-value care by holding providers financially accountable for both the quality and the costs of care. In particular, the CMS has implemented and scaled up two types of APMs: population-based models that emphasize accountability for overall quality and costs for defined patient populations, and episode-based payment models that emphasize accountability for quality and costs for discrete care. Both APM types have been associated with modest reductions in Medicare spending without apparent compromises in quality. However, concerns about the unintended consequences of these APMs remain, and more work is needed in several important areas. Nonetheless, both APM types represent steps to build on along the path toward a higher-value national health care system.
Keywords: Medicare; accountable care organizations; bundled payments; payment reform; value-based payment.