CMS Updates Medicare COVID-19 Snapshot

Mary Madison, RN, RAC-CT, CDP
Clinical Consultant – Briggs Healthcare

September 3, 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released their monthly update of data that provides a snapshot of the impact of COVID-19 on the Medicare population. The updated data show over 773,000 COVID-19 cases among the Medicare population and nearly 215,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations.  [Note: As of early 2020, over 62.3 million Americans are enrolled in Medicare: 60% in Medicare Fee-for-Service (FFS), also known as Original Medicare, and 40% in Medicare Advantage (MA) plans.]

Other key findings (bolding added by me):

  • The rate of COVID-19 cases among Medicare beneficiaries grew 40% since the July release to 1,208 cases per 100,000 beneficiaries.
  • Similarly, the rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations among Medicare beneficiaries grew 33% since the July release to 338 hospitalizations per 100,000 beneficiaries.
  • Weekly counts of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations reached the lowest point to date in late June and began to increase in July.
  • The rate of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations grew the most among disabled beneficiaries, Hispanic beneficiaries, and Medicare-only beneficiaries (those who are not dually eligible for Medicaid).
  • Medicare Fee-for-Service (Original Medicare) spending associated with COVID-19 hospitalizations grew to $3.5 billion or just over $25,000 per hospitalization.
  • Data on discharge status and length of stay for COVID-19 hospitalizations remained similar to previously reported figures in the July release. 29% of beneficiaries went home at the end of their hospital stay and 24% died. Nearly half of the hospitalizations lasted 7 days or less while 5% lasted more than 31 days.  

For more information on the Medicare COVID-19 data, visit: https://www.cms.gov/research-statistics-data-systems/preliminary-medicare-covid-19-data-snapshot.  This is a 12-page document at the bottom of the webpage.   It showcases Medicare Claims and Encounter Data: Services January 1 to July 18, 2020, Received by August 14, 2020.

Take a look at the other graphs that are found in this report (pages 3 -> 12).

For an FAQ on this data release, visit: https://www.cms.gov/files/document/medicare-covid-19-data-snapshot-faqs.pdf.  This is a 3-page, 12-question FAQ document.  An example of one of the Q&A is:

11. Why doesn’t this data release include Medicaid data?

Claims and encounter data for Medicaid enrollees are collected by the states and then submitted to CMS. Medicaid data for analysis of COVID-19 will not be available for at least a few months due to the time lag in the submission of Transformed Medicaid Statistical Information System (T-MSIS) data from the states to CMS. Once the data is received, CMS will work to rapidly make the information available.