Medicare News

Current news for Medicare beneficiaries and the community that serves them.

Medicare Proposes Expansion of Counseling Program For People At Risk of Diabetes

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Kaiser Health News’ Mary Agnes Carey reports: “As the health law turned six Wednesday, federal officials proposed the expansion of a Medicare diabetes prevention program funded by the landmark measure.

The pilot program, developed and administered by the YMCA, helped Medicare enrollees at high risk of developing the disease improve their diets, increase their exercise and lose about 5 percent of their body weight. Beneficiaries in the program, funded by an $11.8 million grant provided by the health law, attended weekly meetings with a lifestyle coach to develop long-term changes to their diet, discussed ways to get more physical activity and made behavior changes that would help control their weight and decrease their risk of Type 2 diabetes. Participants could also attend monthly follow-up meetings to help keep their new habits in place.” (Carey, 3/23)

Read entire article here.


New Online Medicare Tool Shows Disparity of Care for Chronic Disease

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New Medicare tool identifies disparities in health outcomes, utilization, and spending by race and ethnicity and geographic location.

New Medicare tool identifies disparities in health outcomes, utilization, and spending by race and ethnicity and geographic location.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health (CMS OMH) released a new interactive map to increase understanding of geographic disparities in chronic disease among Medicare beneficiaries.

The Mapping Medicare Disparities (MMD) Tool identifies disparities in health outcomes, utilization, and spending by race and ethnicity and geographic location.  Understanding geographic differences in disparities is important to informing policy decisions and efficiently targeting populations and geographies for interventions.

“Our commitment to health equity begins with properly measuring the care people get and having an honest dialogue on how and where we need to improve,” said CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt. “Today’s tool aims to make it harder for disparities to go unaddressed.”

Racial and ethnic minorities experience disproportionately high rates of chronic diseases, and are more likely to experience difficulty accessing high quality of care than other individuals. The identification of areas with large differences in the proportions of Medicare beneficiaries with chronic diseases is an important step for informing and planning health equity activities and initiatives. The Mapping Medicare Disparities Tool features:

A dynamic interface with data on the prevalence of 18 chronic conditions, end stage renal disease, or a disability; Medicare spending, hospital and emergency department (ED) utilization, preventable hospitalizations, readmissions, and mortality rates.

The ability to sort by state or county of residence, sex, age, dual-eligibility for Medicare and Medicaid, and race and ethnicity.

Built-in benchmarking features to investigate disparities within counties and across racial and ethnic groups, and within racial and ethnic groups across counties.

“It’s not enough to improve average health care quality in the U.S.,” said CMS OMH Director Cara James.  “As the CMS Equity Plan lays out, we must identify gaps in quality of care at all levels of the health care system to address disparities. We are excited to share this new tool, which allows us to pinpoint disparities in health care outcomes by population and condition.”

The MMD Tool was developed in collaboration with KPMG LLP and NORC at the University of Chicago as part of the CMS Equity Plan for Improving Quality in Medicare.  The plan provides a framework for advancing health equity by improving the quality of care provided to minority and other underserved Medicare beneficiaries.  MMD Tool

Access the MMD tool

MMD Tool Overview

MMD Tool Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Quick Start Guide

MMD Tool Technical Documentation.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of Minority Health (OMH) was established as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and  works to eliminate health disparities and improve the health of all minority populations, including racial and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, members of the LGBT community, and rural populations.


CMS Expands Quality Data on Physician Compare and Hospital Compare

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Updates provide quality metrics for health care professionals and help consumers choose providers.

Updates provide quality metrics for health care professionals and help consumers choose providers.

Data has been refreshed on both the Physician Compare and Hospital Compare websites to improve these consumer online tools, reports The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). These updates help consumers choose health care providers and provide more quality measures for health care professionals and group practices.

New quality measures have been added to Physician Compare for group practices and Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and, for the first time, individual health care professionals. These measures focus on the quality of care provided by Medicare physicians and other health care professionals. Hospital Compare includes information on more than 100 quality measures and over 4,000 hospitals. The website has been refreshed and updated to include new data and several new measures.

“Consumers want trustworthy, reliable, and understandable information about the quality of health care delivered by providers,” said CMS Deputy Administrator and Chief Medical Officer Patrick Conway, M.D., MSc. “Both Physician Compare and Hospital Compare show consumers that they have a choice. This large release of quality measures for hospitals and physicians empowers consumers with information to make more informed health care decisions, encourages health care professionals to strive for higher levels of quality, and drives overall health system improvement.” Read more