Physicians who serve large numbers of low-income patients are more likely to incur penalties under Medicare value-based purchasing programs.

So concludes a new study in Annals of Internal Medicine.

According to the report,

Performance differences between practices serving higher- and those serving lower-risk patients were affected considerably by additional adjustments, suggesting a potential for Medicare’s pay-for-performance programs to exacerbate health care disparities.

This result is based on a study of the Medicare Value-Based Payment Modifier program, which no longer operates, but could have implications for other programs that seek to reward or penalize practitioners based on the outcomes they produce.

Such findings could lead practitioners to avoid serving such patients so they can avoid penalties, which in turn could jeopardize access to care in some communities.  That, in turn, could have implications for private safety-net hospitals and the communities they serve.

Learn more about the study, its findings, and its implications by going here to see the Annals of Internal Medicine report “The Value-Based Payment Modifier:  Program Outcomes and Implications for Disparities.”