Potential unintended financial consequences of pay-for-performance on the quality of care for minority patients.


Journal Article

OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to determine whether pay-for-performance (PFP) increases existing racial care disparities. BACKGROUND: Medicare's PFP program provides financial rewards to hospitals whose care performance ranks in the highest quintile relative to peers and reduces funding to hospitals that rank in the lowest quintile. Pay-for-performance is designed to improve care but may disproportionately penalize hospitals caring for large minority populations. METHODS: Using Medicare data, 3449 US hospitals were ranked by performance on PFP process measures for acute myocardial infarction (AMI), community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), and heart failure (HF). These rankings were compared with the percentage of African American (AA) patients in a center. We determined the eligibility for financial bonus (highest quintile ranking) or penalty (lowest quintile) among centers treating large AA populations (> or = 20%) versus not after adjusting for hospital facility (catheterization, percutaneous coronary intervention, surgery), academic status, number of hospital beds, location, patient volume, and region. RESULTS: The percentage of AA patients treated by a center was inversely associated with performance for AMI and CAP (P < .01) but not HF (P = .06). Relative to hospitals with < 20% AA, those with > or = 20% AA were less likely eligible for financial bonuses and more likely to face penalties: for AMI, adjusted odds ratio (OR) 0.7 (95% CI 0.5-1.0) and 1.8 (1.4-2.4), respectively; for CAP, OR 0.5 (95% CI 0.3-0.6) and 2.3 (1.8-2.9), respectively; for HF, OR 1.0 (95% CI 0.7-1.2) and 1.2 (0.9-1.5), respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Hospitals with large minority populations may be at financial risk under PFP. Thus, PFP may worsen existing racial care disparities.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Karve, AM; Ou, F-S; Lytle, BL; Peterson, ED

Published Date

  • March 2008

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 155 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 571 - 576

PubMed ID

  • 18294498

Pubmed Central ID

  • 18294498

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1097-6744

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.ahj.2007.10.043


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States