CMS to update COVID-19 data monthly

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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

WASHINGTON – Older Americans and those with chronic health conditions are at the highest risk for COVID-19, according to data released by CMS this week.

The data confirms long-understood disparities in health outcomes for racial and ethnic minority groups, and among low-income populations, the agency says.

“The disparities in the data reflect long-standing challenges facing minority communities and low income older adults, many of whom face structural challenges to their health that go far beyond what is traditionally considered ‘medical,’” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma.

More than 325,000 Medicare beneficiaries had a diagnosis of COVID-19 between Jan. 1 and May 16, 2020, according to the data. This translates to 518 cases per 100,000 Medicare beneficiaries.

The data also shows that nearly 110,000 Medicare beneficiaries were hospitalized for COVID-19 related treatment—175 hospitalizations per 100,000 Medicare beneficiaries. Blacks were hospitalized with COVID-19 at a rate nearly four times higher than whites.

CMS typically releases Medicare claims information on an annual basis, when there are more complete claims and encounter data. However, as part of its efforts to provide data transparency during the pandemic and ensure the public has this vital information as soon as it is available, the agency is releasing this preliminary data now. CMS will update the data on a monthly basis, as more claims and encounter records are received.

Other data highlighted by CMS:

•    End-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients had the highest rate of hospitalization among all Medicare beneficiaries, with 1,341 hospitalizations per 100,000 beneficiaries. Patients with ESRD are also more likely to have chronic co-morbidities associated with increased COVID-19 complications and hospitalization, such as diabetes and heart failure.

•    The second highest rate was among beneficiaries enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid (also known as “dual eligible”), with 473 hospitalizations per 100,000 beneficiaries.

•    Among racial/ethnic groups, Blacks had the highest hospitalization rate, with 465 per 100,000. Hispanics had 258 hospitalizations per 100,000. Asians had 187 per 100,000 and whites had 123 per 100,000.

•    Beneficiaries living in rural areas have fewer cases and were hospitalized at a lower rate than those living in urban/suburban areas (57 versus 205 hospitalizations per 100,000).