Study Examines Healthcare Disparities In US Territories.

Reuters (6/29, Joelving) reports that, according to a study published online June 27 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, hospitals in the US territories including Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the US Virgin Islands, experience higher death rates in patients with pneumonia and heart failure and after heart attacks. After analyzing Medicare data from 2005 to 2008 on patients in 57 territorial hospitals and approximately 4,800 hospitals stateside, the study authors concluded that differences in Medicare funding may factor into the death rate disparities. Medicare spends far less on beneficiaries in the territories (only $2,800 per person) as it does on those in the states ($6,300 per person). Dr. Nilsa Gutierrez, of the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, stated, “The unintended negative effects of these policy differences are evident, and their impact on access to care and treatment, services, and delivery system infrastructure are measurable.”

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