30-Day Episode Payments and Heart Failure Outcomes Among Medicare Beneficiaries

Rishi K. Wadhera, Karen E. Joynt Maddox, Yun Wang, Changyu Shen, Robert W. Yeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to examine the association of 30-day payments for an episode of heart failure (HF) care at the hospital level with patient outcomes. Background: There is increased focus among policymakers on improving value for HF care, given its rising prevalence and associated financial burden in the United States; however, little is known about the relationship between payments and mortality for a 30-day episode of HF care. Methods: Using Medicare claims data for all fee-for-service beneficiaries hospitalized for HF between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2014, we examined the association between 30-day Medicare payments at the hospital level (beginning with a hospital admission for HF and across multiple settings following discharge) and patient 30-day mortality using mixed-effect logistic regression models. Results: We included 1,343,792 patients hospitalized for HF across 2,948 hospitals. Mean hospital-level 30-day Medicare payments per beneficiary were $15,423 ± $1,523. Overall observed mortality in the cohort was 11.3%. Higher hospital-level 30-day payments were associated with lower patient mortality after adjustment for patient characteristics (odds ratio per $1,000 increase in payments: 0.961; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.954 to 0.967). This relationship was slightly attenuated after accounting for hospital characteristics and HF volume, but remained significant (odds ratio per $1,000 increase: 0.968; 95% CI: 0.962 to 0.975). Additional adjustment for potential mediating factors, including cardiac service capability and post-acute service use, did not significantly affect the relationship. Conclusions: Higher hospital-level 30-day episode payments were associated with lower patient mortality following a hospitalization for HF. This has implications for policies that incentivize reduction in payments without considering value. Further investigation is needed to understand the mechanisms that underlie this relationship.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-387
Number of pages9
JournalJACC: Heart Failure
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018


  • heart failure
  • mortality
  • outcomes
  • payments
  • spending
  • value


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