June 25, 2020

CMS issues call to action based on new COVID-19 data for Medicare patients

By: Judy Mathias

Editor's Note

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on June 22 called for a renewed commitment to value-based care based on Medicare claims data that provides an early snapshot of the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Medicare population.

Medicare patient data, from January 1 to May 16, 2020, show that:

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  • more than 325,000 were diagnosed with COVID-19
  • nearly 110,000 were hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment
  • Blacks were hospitalized with COVID-19 nearly four times more than whites
  • end-stage renal disease patients had the highest rate of hospitalizations at 1,341 per 100,000
  • patients enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid had the second highest rate of hospitalizations at 473 per 100,000 and a higher infection rate at 1,406 per 100,000 (Medicare-only patients had an infection rate at 325 per 100,000)
  • among racial/ethnic groups, Blacks had the highest hospitalization rate at 465 per 100,000, Hispanics at 258/100,000, Asians at 187/ 100,000, and whites at 123/100,000
  • those living in rural areas had fewer cases and were hospitalized at a lower rate than those living in urban/suburban areas (57 vs 205 hospitalizations per 100,000).

Because of the complexity of these disparities, any solution requires a multi-sectoral approach that includes, federal, state, and local governments, community based organizations, and private industry along with increased implementation of a value-based system that rewards providers for keeping patients healthy, CMS says.


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