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Although the Medicare program is primarily an insurance program, it serves additional functions by virtue of its population-wide coverage (individuals older than 65 years, as well as people who are blind or disabled or who have end-stage kidney disease) and its vast and comprehensive data on beneficiary health care utilization and costs, clinical conditions, and medication use.
Medicare data have been used to examine process and outcomes of care and prevalence of chronic conditions of public health importance, and for infectious disease surveillance, such as influenza, and disease-related outcomes, such as hospitalization and death. Data on Medicare beneficiaries have also been used in disaster preparedness and response to identify individuals who require access to electricity (such as those receiving ventilator support) and, while maintaining privacy protections, to notify public health agencies of their names and addresses in anticipation of and during disasters such as hurricanes, wildfires, and other disaster-related power outages.1
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Corresponding Author: Nicole Lurie, MD, MSPH, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), 1900 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20006 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Published Online: November 19, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.22720
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Lurie reported formerly serving as assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services, where some of the ideas discussed in this article were initially developed. Dr Experton reported that funding for the development of the predictive model for severe COVID-19 cited in the article was provided by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory under a prime contract with the Department of Defense Joint Artificial Intelligence Center.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations or Harvard Medical School.
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