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Review Finds 20% of NWA Medicare Dollars Leaves Region

1 min read

An analysis by the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement provides more evidence that health services in northwest Arkansas have been strained by recent demand.

The review found that in 2019, more than 20% of the $1.1 billion spent on local Medicare enrollees wound up going to services outside the region. Northwest Arkansas was defined as Benton, Carroll, Madison and Washington counties. Researchers focused on 2019 to obtain a view of a typical pre-pandemic year.

ACHI said the analysis paid special attention to heart disease because it’s the leading cause of death among Arkansans and because cardiology is one of the most in-demand types of specialty care.

Findings include:

  • Of the more than 75,000 cardiology procedures performed on Medicare enrollees who lived in northwest Arkansas in 2019, 11%, or about 9,000, were provided outside the region
  • In 2019, there were nine cardiothoracic surgeons performing coronary artery bypass grafting surgery the region, five of whom were over age 60

“Future examinations of the impact of COVID-19 and continued population growth in the region likely will show even greater strain on available services and provider supply,” Dr. Joe Thompson, ACHI president and CEO, said in a news release.

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