Cover: Effects of the Million Hearts Model on Myocardial Infarctions, Strokes, and Medicare Spending

Effects of the Million Hearts Model on Myocardial Infarctions, Strokes, and Medicare Spending

A Randomized Clinical Trial

Published in: JAMA, Volume 330, No. 15, pages 1437-1447 (2023). doi: 10.1001/jama.2023.19597

Posted on Oct 20, 2023

by Laura Blue, Keith Kranker, Amanda Markovitz, Rhea Powell, Malcolm V. Williams, Jia Pu, David J. Magid, Nancy McCall, Alli Steiner, Kate Stewart, et al.


The Million Hearts Model paid health care organizations to assess and reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. Model effects on long-term outcomes are unknown.


To estimate model effects on first-time myocardial infarctions (MIs) and strokes and Medicare spending over a period up to 5 years.

Design, Setting, and Participants

This pragmatic cluster-randomized trial ran from 2017 to 2021, with organizations assigned to a model intervention group or standard care control group. Randomized organizations included 516 US-based primary care and specialty practices, health centers, and hospital-based outpatient clinics participating voluntarily. Of these organizations, 342 entered patients into the study population, which included Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries aged 40 to 79 years with no previous MI or stroke and with high or medium CVD risk (a 10-year predicted probability of MI or stroke [ie, CVD risk score] ≥15%) in 2017-2018.


Organizations agreed to perform guideline-concordant care, including routine CVD risk assessment and cardiovascular care management for high-risk patients. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services paid organizations to calculate CVD risk scores for Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries. CMS further rewarded organizations for reducing risk among high-risk beneficiaries (CVD risk score ≥30%).

Main Outcomes and Measures

Outcomes included first-time CVD events (MIs, strokes, and transient ischemic attacks) identified in Medicare claims, combined first-time CVD events from claims and CVD deaths (coronary heart disease or cerebrovascular disease deaths) identified using the National Death Index, and Medicare Parts A and B spending for CVD events and overall. Outcomes were measured through 2021. Results: High- and medium-risk model intervention beneficiaries (n = 130 578) and standard care control beneficiaries (n = 88 286) were similar in age (median age, 72-73 y), sex (58%-59% men), race (7%-8% Black), and baseline CVD risk score (median, 24%). The probability of a first-time CVD event within 5 years was 0.3 percentage points lower for intervention beneficiaries than control beneficiaries (3.3% relative effect; adjusted hazard ratio [HR], 0.97 [90% CI, 0.93-1.00]; P = .09). The 5-year probability of combined first-time CVD events and CVD deaths was 0.4 percentage points lower in the intervention group (4.2% relative effect; HR, 0.96 [90% CI, 0.93-0.99]; P = .02). Medicare spending for CVD events was similar between the groups (effect estimate, −$1.83 per beneficiary per month [90% CI, −$3.97 to −$0.30]; P = .16), as was overall Medicare spending including model payments (effect estimate, $2.11 per beneficiary per month [90% CI, −$16.66 to $20.89]; P = .85).

Conclusions and Relevance

The Million Hearts Model, which encouraged and paid for CVD risk assessment and reduction, reduced first-time MIs and strokes. Results support guidelines to use risk scores for CVD primary prevention.

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