Neighborhood Socioeconomic Disadvantage and Mortality Among Medicare Beneficiaries Hospitalized for Acute Myocardial Infarction, Heart Failure, and Pneumonia

J Gen Intern Med. 2021 Sep 10. doi: 10.1007/s11606-021-07090-z. Online ahead of print.


Background: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Hospital Value-Based Purchasing program uses 30-day mortality rates for acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, and pneumonia to evaluate US hospitals, but does not account for neighborhood socioeconomic disadvantage when comparing their performance.

Objective: To determine if neighborhood socioeconomic disadvantage is associated with worse 30-day mortality rates after a hospitalization for acute myocardial infarction (AMI), heart failure (HF), or pneumonia in the USA, as well as within the subset of counties with a high proportion of Black individuals.

Design and participants: This retrospective, population-based study included all Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries aged 65 years or older hospitalized for acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, or pneumonia between 2012 and 2015.

Exposure: Residence in most socioeconomically disadvantaged vs. less socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods as measured by the area deprivation index (ADI).

Main measure(s): All-cause mortality within 30 days of admission.

Key results: The study included 3,471,592 Medicare patients. Of these patients, 333,472 resided in most disadvantaged neighborhoods and 3,138,120 in less disadvantaged neighborhoods. Patients living in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods were younger (78.4 vs. 80.0 years) and more likely to be Black adults (24.6% vs. 7.5%) and dually enrolled in Medicaid (39.4% vs. 21.8%). After adjustment for demographics (age, sex, race/ethnicity), poverty, and clinical comorbidities, 30-day mortality was higher among beneficiaries residing in most disadvantaged neighborhoods for AMI (adjusted odds ratio 1.08, 95% CI 1.06-1.11) and pneumonia (aOR 1.05, 1.03-1.07), but not for HF (aOR 1.02, 1.00-1.04). These patterns were similar within the subset of US counties with a high proportion of Black adults (AMI, aOR 1.07, 1.03-1.11; HF 1.02, 0.99-1.05; pneumonia 1.03, 1.00-1.07).

Conclusions: Neighborhood socioeconomic disadvantage is associated with higher 30-day mortality for some conditions targeted by value-based programs, even after accounting for individual-level demographics, clinical comorbidities, and poverty. These findings may have implications as policymakers weigh strategies to advance health equity under value-based programs.