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Report: Sicker Medicare patients driving up intensity of ED care

May 2, 2013

Sicker, more complex Medicare patients are driving up the intensity of emergency department care, according to an AHA report released today. The report, which is based on an analysis of Medicare claims data conducted by The Moran Company, found that the number of ED services provided to Medicare beneficiaries is growing and patients’ needs are shifting toward services that demand the use of more resources. “The reality is that seniors who come to the hospital ED are sicker and have more chronic illnesses,” said AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock. “Hospitals are striving to meet their communities’ needs, which means caring for patients who need more – and more intensive – services than ever before.” While some policymakers have raised concerns that the shift toward ED services that require more resources is leading to higher Medicare spending, the report shows that the overall use of ED services is also increasing, and EDs are serving more Medicare patients with behavioral health diagnoses and more patients enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid.