Study: Racial disparities continue for Medicare outcomes

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Substantial racial disparities in health outcomes still persist for Medicare beneficiaries, a new study finds.

Even within the same Medicare health plan, black beneficiaries on average have worse outcomes than their white counterparts, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers at Harvard University and Brown University found that clinical performance was approximately 7% to 14% lower for black enrollees compared to white enrollees for "outcome measures" for diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

Most of the racial disparity in outcome measures was a result of different outcomes for black and white enrollees within the same plan, not because of a disproportionate number of blacks enrolled in lower-performing plans, according to the study authors. Plans, providers and patients are responsible for the gaps in care, they said.