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New CMS Data Shows Quality of Care Provided by Medicare Plans to Diverse Communities

This week the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of Minority Health released data about the quality of care provided by Medicare Advantage plans to enrollees of various racial or ethnic groups, marking the first time CMS made quality information stratified by race and ethnicity publicly available.

CMS expects this data will increase the agency’s and public’s understanding and awareness of health disparities and their causes. Dr. Cara James, director of the CMS Office of Minority Health stated that these data “show where we have problems and can help spur efforts to understand what can be done to reduce or eliminate these differences.”

The data and summary released this week is based on an analysis of information from medical records, administrative information about how well the needs of beneficiaries are met for certain chronic conditions, and the Medicare Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS®) Survey, which is conducted annually by CMS.

CAHPS focuses on the health care experiences of Medicare beneficiaries across the nation. This information comes from some of the same sources as those used to set plan’s star ratings and plan quality bonus payments, but are not identical and will not cause any change in plan payments.

A report summarizing the data accompanied the release. Analysis showed that Asians and Pacific Islanders typically received care that is similar to or better than the care received by Whites, whereas African Americans and Hispanics typically received care that is similar to or worse than the care received by Whites. African Americans and Hispanics also reported satisfaction rates in the CAHPS survey that were lower than those reported by Whites.

Visit CMS’s website to view the data and summary report.

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