Colorado Accountable Care Collaborative Delivers Access and Quality, Using Taxpayer Dollars Effectively

JAMA study highlights Colorado successes; better quality, lower costs


February 16, 2017

Media Contact:
Marc Williams

Denver, CO - A newly released study by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) comparing the performance of Oregon and Colorado Medicaid Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), finds that while expenditures for selected services declined in both states, Colorado’s approach did so without a large investment from the federal government.

According to the study, "Two years into implementation, Oregon’s and Colorado’s Medicaid ACO models exhibited similar performance on standardized expenditures for selected services. Oregon’s model, marked by a large federal investment and movement to global budgets, was associated with improvements in some measures of utilization, access, and quality, but Colorado’s model paralleled Oregon’s on several other metrics.”

“We’re changing how we pay for health care here in Colorado," said Susan E. Birch, MBA, BSN, RN, executive director for the Department. "We’ve been doing it slowly, intentionally, and very carefully through a collaborative, inclusive process. The evaluations are showing significant success. Because we’ve done it in a thrifty way – without a $1.9 billion federal investment – we think this is the accountable care of the future, which is a healthy direction."

The JAMA study was accompanied by an editorial from the study’s authors who said, “…the Colorado medical home model improved value through supporting providers with coaching, connecting members with nonmedical services, and providing feedback on costs, utilization, and outcomes.”

“The fact that we were making the grade on quality, and the fact that our total cost of care line is stable – that’s enormous,” Director Birch said. “That means we’re really achieving this value proposition.”

For more information on the Colorado Accountable Care Collaborative’s performance, please see pages 18-20 in the Department’s FY 2015-16 Annual Report.

About the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing: The Department administers Health First Colorado (Colorado's Medicaid Program) and Child Health Plan Plus as well as a variety of other programs for Coloradans who qualify. For more information about the Department, please visit