Rates of Chronic Disease Rising Among Medicare Beneficiaries, AHA Finds
The rates of chronic disease among Medicare beneficiaries are increasing steadily, according to a study released Tuesday by the American Hospital Association, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 12/11).
About 80% of beneficiaries have an illness -- such as heart disease, cancer, hypertension, stroke and diabetes -- lasting at least three months, according to the study. About half of those with stroke or heart failure also have several other chronic health conditions (AHA report, December 2012).
In all, two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries had at least two chronic illnesses in 2008, and that rate is increasing, AHA said.
Meanwhile, costs have risen. For instance, inpatient treatment for heart attack rose from $10,336 to $14,009 between 1999 and 2006 (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 12/11).
The increasing rates of chronic illnesses could be fueled by beneficiaries' poorer health and longer lifespans, according to experts. For example, climbing obesity rates -- which have more than doubled among beneficiaries since the 1980s -- might have contributed to the issue.
Study Supports Increasing Reimbursements, AHA Says
AHA said the study gives credence to its argument that hospitals should receive increased reimbursements from Medicare to account for sicker beneficiaries, "Healthwatch" reports.
In 2008, CMS implemented a new system to determine hospital payments -- known as MS-DRG -- that has led to lower payments. AHA argues in the study that the payment rates do not reflect the increasing costs of treating sicker beneficiaries.
"Policymakers should carefully consider the trends of increasing acuity in the Medicare patient population as they seek changes to payment policy," the report states ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 12/11).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.