New CMS tool shows readmissions increase by region, demographics

A total of sixteen states had 16 or more hospital readmissions per 100 Medicare beneficiaries in 2014, according to a new data mapping tool unveiled Thursday by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Data.

The “Mapping Medicare Disparities” tool allows users to break down data by state or county, beneficiaries' demographics, health conditions, and Medicare measures. The tool includes data from CMS enrollment and claims data for the years 2012, 2013 and 2014.

In 2014 California, Alaska, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Jersey had the highest average total Medicare cost per beneficiary, with $52,955 or higher per year, according to the data. The number of states with the highest readmissions rates climbed over two years, from 6 in 2012 to 16 in 2014 (see map).

“Our commitment to health equity begins with properly measuring the care people get and having an honest dialogue on how and where we need to improve,” said CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt in a press release. “Today's tool aims to make it harder for disparities to go unaddressed.”

The data will help inform policy decisions that target gaps in Medicare coverage, including the high rates of chronic conditions among racial and ethnic minorities, CMS officials said.