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.
- heart failure