Objective. To determine whether mortality rates for patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI) changed in New Jersey after implementation of the Health Care Reform Act, which reduced subsidies for hospital care for the uninsured and changed hospital payment to price competition from a rate-setting system based on hospital cost.
Data Sources/Study Setting. Patient discharge data from hospitals in New Jersey and New York from 1990 through 1996 and the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS).
Study Design. A comparison between states over time of unadjusted and risk-adjusted mortality and cardiac procedure rates.
Data Collection. Discharge data were obtained for 286,640 patients with the primary diagnosis of AMI admitted to hospitals in New Jersey or New York from 1990 through 1996. Records of 364,273 NIS patients were used to corroborate time trends.
Principal Findings. There were no significant differences in AMI mortality among insured patients in New Jersey relative to New York or the NIS. However, there was a relative increase in mortality of 41 to 57 percent among uninsured New Jersey patients post-reform, and their rates of expensive cardiac procedures decreased concomitantly.
Conclusions. The introduction of hospital price competition and reductions in subsidies for hospital care of the uninsured were associated with an increased mortality rate among uninsured New Jersey AMI patients. A relative decrease in the use of cardiac procedures in New Jersey may partly explain this finding. Additional studies should be done to identify whether other market reforms have been associated with changes in the quality of care.