(HealthDay News) — Racial and ethnic disparities exist among Medicare Advantage Plan enrollees, and improved performance on quality measures is accompanied by increased racial/ethnic equity, according to two studies published in the December 11 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

John Z. Ayanian, MD, MPP, from the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, and colleagues compared the age- and sex-adjusted proportions of elderly enrollees in Medicare Advantage health plans with adequate control of blood pressure, cholesterol, and glycated hemoglobin. The researchers found that in 2006 and 2011, black enrollees were less likely to have adequate control of blood pressure, cholesterol, and glycated hemoglobin than white enrollees (P<0.001); in 2011, Hispanic enrollees were also less likely to have adequate control (P≤0.02 for all comparisons).

Amal N. Trivedi, MD, MPH, from the Providence Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Rhode Island, and colleagues assessed performance rates for quality measures covering acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, and pneumonia among non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic patients. The researchers found that between 2005–2010 there was a 3.4% improvement in adjusted performance rates for the 17 quality measures (P<0.001 for all comparisons). In 2005, adjusted performance rates were >5% lower for black and Hispanic patients on three and six measures, respectively, compared with white patients; these gaps decreased significantly between 2005–2010.

“Our study provides support for the notion that efforts to improve the overall quality of care may also reduce racial and ethnic disparities,” Trivedi and colleagues write.

Full Text – Ayanian (subscription or payment may be required)
Full Text – Trivedi (subscription or payment may be required)
Editorial (subscription or payment may be required)