CMS zeroes in on at-risk communities with new mapping tool

CMS’s newly introduced Mapping Medicare Disparities (MMD) tool is expected to increase understanding of geographic disparities in health outcomes, utilization, and spending related to chronic disease among Medicare beneficiaries. The tool, which the CMS Office of Minority Health (OMH) developed in collaboration with the University of Chicago under the CMS Equity Plan for Improving Quality in Medicare (Equity Plan), identifies disparities by race, ethnicity, and geographic location and will inform policy decisions in creating health interventions.


Chronic diseases pose a significant problem in the United States, with two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries having multiple chronic conditions and accounting for 93 percent of Medicare spending. Racial and ethnic minority communities are disproportionately affected by disparities in disease, with the burden differing based on where the individuals live. CMS created the MMD to help provides users with a quick and easy way to identify areas with large numbers of vulnerable populations, allowing them to target interventions to address racial and ethnic disparities.

The MMD provides, through a public interactive website, health-related measures from Medicare claims by sex, age, dual eligibility status, race and ethnicity, and state and county. Measures include the prevalence rates and costs related to certain conditions, hospitalization rates, prevention quality indicators, readmission and mortality rates, and emergency department visit rates. The MMD also provides users with the ability to visualize health outcomes at a national, state, or county level, identify health outcomes by select beneficiary characteristics, compare differences between two geographic locations, and compare differences between two racial and ethnic groups within the same geographic area.

CMS Equity Plan for Improving Quality in Medicare

The Equity Plan provides an action-oriented, results-driven approach to advancing health equity by improving the quality of care provided to minority and other underserved groups of Medicare beneficiaries. The Equity Plan puts CMS in a better position to support those involved in quality improvement, including quality improvement organizations (QIOs), federal, state, local, and tribal organizations, providers, researchers, policymakers, and beneficiaries and their families. The plan focuses on Medicare populations including racial and ethnic minorities, sexual and gender minorities, persons with disabilities, and those living in rural areas, who typically experience disproportionately high burdens of disease, lower quality of care, and barriers to accessing care.