Medicaid, Medicare hospital funding not reaching marginalized communities, study finds

CMS payments designed to help hospitals cover the costs of uncompensated care and improve health outcomes are not fully reaching underserved communities, researchers wrote in a Nov. 4 letter for JAMA Network Open

The researchers, from Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City and the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia, hypothesized that hospitals in counties with disproportionately Black populations were not receiving enough payments to meet the needs of the populations they serve. 

These disproportionate share hospital payments are often tied to healthcare use, the authors wrote, and marginalized populations often face barriers to accessing healthcare. 

The authors analyzed disproportionate hospital share payment data and county characteristics, and found counties with disproportionate Black populations had higher rates of uncompensated care and health-related disadvantages compared to other counties receiving the same level of funding. 

"These findings suggest that policymakers should consider measures not based on healthcare use to ensure more equitable targeting of [disproportionate share hospital] payments or additional allocations to historically underserved communities," the authors concluded. 

Read the full research letter here.

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