Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 33, Issue 6, pp 831–838 | Cite as

Do Changes in Post-acute Care Use at Hospitals Participating in an Accountable Care Organization Spillover to All Medicare Beneficiaries?

  • Amol S. Navathe
  • Alexander M. Bain
  • Rachel M. Werner
Original Research



While early evidence suggests that Medicare accountable care organizations (ACOs) may reduce post-acute care (PAC) utilization for attributed beneficiaries, whether these effects spill over to all beneficiaries admitted to hospitals participating in ACOs stray is unknown.


The objective of this study was to evaluate whether changes in PAC use and Medicare spending spill over to all beneficiaries admitted to hospitals participating in the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP).


Observational study using a difference-in-differences design comparing changes in PAC utilization and spending among beneficiaries admitted to ACO-participating hospitals before and after the start of the ACO contracts, compared to those admitted to non-ACO hospitals.


A total of 233 hospitals participate in MSSP ACOs and 3103 non-ACO hospitals.


A national sample of 11,683,573 Medicare beneficiaries experiencing 26,503,086 hospital admissions from 2010 to 2013.


Admission to a hospital participating in an MSSP ACO.

Main Measures

The probability of discharge and Medicare payments to inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRF), skilled nursing facilities (SNF), and home health agencies (HHA).

Key Results

For beneficiaries admitted to hospitals that joined an ACO, the likelihood of being discharged to PAC did not change after the hospital joined the ACO compared with non-ACO hospitals over the same period (differential change in probability of discharge to any PAC was 0.000 (P = 0.89), SNF was 0.000 (P = 0.73), IRF was 0.000 (P = 0.96), and HHA was 0.001 (P = 0.57)). Payments reduced significantly for PAC overall (− $130.41, P = 0.03), but not for any individual PAC type alone. These results were consistent in samples that were conditional on discharge to any PAC, across conditions with high PAC use nationally, and among ACO-participating hospitals that also had a PAC participant.


Hospital participation in an ACO did not result in spillovers in PAC utilization or payments to all beneficiaries, even when considering high PAC-use conditions and ACO hospitals that also have an ACO-participating PAC.


accountable care organization post-acute care skilled nursing facility Medicare health policy 



The authors would like to acknowledge Ning Chen for her contribution to this work. This research was funded by R01-HS024266 by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Rachel Werner was supported in part by K24-AG047908 from the National Institute on Aging.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

The University of Pennsylvania Institutional Review Board approved the study.

Conflict of Interest

Dr. Navathe receives research funding from Hawaii Medical Services Association and Oscar Health Insurance. He also serves as an advisor to Navvis and Company, Navigant Inc., Lynx Medical, Indegene Inc., and Sutherland Global Services and receives an honorarium from Elsevier Press, none of which have relationship to this manuscript. All remaining authors declare that they do not have a conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11606_2018_4368_MOESM1_ESM.docx (343 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 342 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amol S. Navathe
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Alexander M. Bain
    • 2
  • Rachel M. Werner
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Corporal Michael J. Cresencz VA Medical CenterPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Perelman School of MedicineUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, The Wharton SchoolUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  4. 4.Division of Health PolicyUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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