by Charlotte Kaye, Health Policy Fellow

There is an old proverb that reads, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Colorado’s health care field has continually proved this to be true, and has done so once again. In 2011, in response to increasing caseload and cost, the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) created the Accountable Care Collaborative (ACC). Providers in the ACC are accountable and rewarded for achieving health outcomes instead of the volume of service they provide.

On Monday, HCPF announced that the ACC program achieved $44 million in gross savings. After accounting for payments to providers and regional care collaborative organizations (RCCOs) that provide care to Coloradans, the ACC saved approximately $6 million for the state fiscal year 2012-2013 – yes, the ACC saved money. This announcement marks a huge improvement from where Colorado started just 2 years ago. Not only were savings high, but most importantly patient outcomes were also improved. Patient care for people enrolled in the ACC program improved in three key areas compared to clients not enrolled in the ACC:
     • Hospital readmission rates decreased 15-20%.
     • 25% reduction in high cost imaging.
     • ACC patients saw a 1.9% increase in emergency room utilization compared to 2.8% increase for those not enrolled in the ACC.

The ACC is a key component of Medicaid reform in Colorado. The focus is on wrap-around care for the patient; the ACC aims to improve health outcomes through a coordinated, patient-centered system. The patient gets comprehensive care usually in a community medical home where they are comfortable and know and trust their providers. Since the beginning of the program, the ACC has enrolled more than 352,000 clients. These Medicaid patients in the ACC program receive the regular Medicaid benefit package and belong to a RCCO that coordinates each individual patients’ care, so they get the care they need when they need it. 

Coloradans have always been on the cusp of innovation. We are proud of the progress we have made today, but look to continue to provide better quality affordable health care to all Coloradans. HCPF and the rest of the health care community understand the work we still have ahead of us, but working together, we can move Colorado closer to this common-sense goal. No one ever said that once the going gets tough that the tough can stop – they have to keep going. 

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