The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released an interactive map to help pinpoint disparities in health outcomes, utilization of health services, and health care spending by race and ethnicity based on geographic locations. Specifically, the tool shows disparities in chronic diseases among Medicare beneficiaries, spotlighting differences according to geography, age, sex, and race and ethnicity. According to CMS, “Understanding geographic differences in disparities is important to informing policy decisions and efficiently targeting populations and geographies for interventions.”
Last week, we wrote about a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) report highlighting the racial and ethnic backgrounds of people with Medicare. The KFF report demonstrated that life expectancy for people age 65 improved over the past few decades, but it is lower for blacks than whites. The report also featured research showing inequalities in wait times for life-saving treatments, like kidney transplants and cancer treatments, as well as in how often people in certain groups are readmitted to the hospital.
CMS expects the new mapping tool will aid with the planning and development of policies to decrease known disparities. “It’s not enough to improve average health care quality in the U.S.,” said CMS Office of Minority Health (OMH) Director Cara James in the CMS announcement. “…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.”