Despite claiming to have prioritized health equity, the Biden administration just missed an opportunity to address poor nutrition—an important health and equity issue for older adults in particular. When the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released its FY 2022 Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment System Final Rule, something was conspicuously absent from the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting (IQR) Program: a quality measure specific to malnutrition.
Through IQR, CMS pays a higher rate to hospitals that successfully report designated quality measures, thus supporting quality improvement and increased transparency. This omission is particularly disappointing given the availability of a new National Quality Forum (NQF)-endorsed measure for malnutrition in the hospital; at best, it represents a lost opportunity for supporting Medicare beneficiaries and the underserved populations in this country. The new Global Malnutrition Composite Score—strongly recommended in a bipartisan letter recently sent to CMS by 28 members of Congress—not only effectively addresses hospitals’ identification and management of malnutrition. It also fully meets four specific health equity priorities that CMS has identified for reducing disparities in health.