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New Book Addresses Social Risk Factors in Medicare

In the new book, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine addresses the question of what social risk factors might be worth considering in Medicare value-based payment programs and how those risk factors might be reflected in value-based payments.

The book, the culmination of a five-part NASEM process, focuses on five social risk factors:

  • socio-economic position
  • race, ethnicity, and cultural context
  • gender
  • social relationships
  • residential and community context

Addressing such factors in Medicare value-based payments, the book finds, can help achieve four important goals:

  • reduce disparities in access, quality, and outcomes
  • improve the qualify and efficiency of care for all patients
  • foster fair and accurate reporting
  • compensate provides fairly

Doing so also can help prevent five types of unintended consequences from a failure to address social risk factors in Medicare payment policy:

  • providers avoiding patients with social risk factors
  • reducing incentives to improve the quality of care for patients with social risk factors
  • underpaying providers that serve disproportionately large numbers of patients with social risk factors
  • a perception of different medical standards for different populations
  • obscuring disparities in care and outcomes

The kinds of patients these social risk factors seek to identify are precisely those served by Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals in far greater numbers than other community hospitals throughout the state.

Learn more about social risk factors and their potential role in Medicare value-based payment policy in the new book Accounting for Social Risk Factors in Medicare Payment, which can be downloaded free of charge here, from the web site of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Filed in Pennsylvania safety-net hospitals.

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