A new interactive tool from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) allows users to better understand geographic disparities in chronic disease among Medicare beneficiaries. The Mapping Medicare Disparities (MMD) Tool is expected to help government agencies, policymakers, researchers, community-based organizations, health providers, quality improvement organizations and the general public analyze chronic disease disparities, identifying how a region or population may differ from the state or national average.
Identifying where to target resources to promote health equity is central to CMS’ Office of Minority Health’s September 2015 plan “CMS Equity Plan for Improving Quality in Medicare” In 2014, two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries had multiple chronic conditions and accounted for 94 percent of Medicare spending. Also, data show racial and ethnic minorities experience disproportionately higher rates of disease, inferior quality of care and reduced access to care as compared to their white counterparts Understanding disparities and their geographic variations is important to inform policy decisions and to identify populations and localities to target for interventions.
The new MMD tool presents health-related measures from Medicare claims by sex, age, dual eligibility for Medicare and Medicaid, race and ethnicity, and state and county. It provides users with a quick and easy way to identify areas with large numbers of vulnerable populations to target interventions that address racial and ethnic disparities.