The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services End-Stage Renal Disease Quality Incentive Program (ESRD QIP) measures quality of care delivered by dialysis facilities and imposes Medicare payment reductions for quality lapses. We assessed the association between payment reductions and patient mortality, a quality indicator not included in the ESRD QIP measure set.
Association between mortality and ESRD QIP facility payment reduction based on the year of performance was expressed as the unadjusted rate and patient case-mix–adjusted hazard ratio. We also measured association between mortality and 1-year changes in payment reductions. Retrospective patient cohorts were defined by their treating dialysis facility on the first day of each year (2010–2018).
Facility performance resulted in payment reductions for 5%–42% of dialysis facilities over the 9 study years. Patients experienced progressively higher mortality at each payment reduction level. Across all years, unadjusted mortality was 17.3, 18.1, 18.9, 20.3, and 23.9 deaths per 100 patient-years for patients in facilities that received 0%, 0.5%, 1%, 1.5%, and 2% payment reductions, respectively. The adjusted hazard ratio showed a similar stepwise pattern by the level of payment reduction: 1.0 (reference), 1.08 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.07 to 1.09), 1.15 (95% CI, 1.13 to 1.16), 1.19 (95% CI, 1.16 to 1.21), and 1.34 (95% CI, 1.29 to 1.39). Strength of the association increased from 2010 to 2016. Patients treated in facilities that improved over 1 year generally experienced lower mortality; patients in facilities that performed worse on ESRD QIP measures generally experienced higher mortality.
Patient mortality was associated with ESRD QIP facility payment reductions in dose-response and temporal patterns.