To determine the association between the asthma medication ratio (AMR) quality measure and adverse outcomes among Medicaid-enrolled children with asthma in Arkansas, given concerns regarding the utility of the AMR in evaluating pediatric risk of asthma-related adverse events (AAEs).
We used the Arkansas All-Payer Claims Database to identify Medicaid-enrolled children with asthma using a nonrestrictive case definition and additionally using the standard Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) persistent asthma definition. We assessed the AMR using the traditional dichotomous HEDIS AMR categorization and across 4 expanded AMR categories. Regression models assessed associations between AMR and AAE including hospitalization and emergency department utilization, with models conducted overall and by race and ethnicity.
Of the 22 788 children in the analysis, 9.0% had an AAE (6.7% asthma-related emergency department visits; 3.0% asthma-related hospitalizations). We found poor correlation between AMR and AAE, with higher rates of AAE (10.5%) among children with AMR ≥0.5 compared with AMR <0.5 (8.5%; P < .001), and similar patterns stratified by racial and ethnic subgroups. Expanded AMR categorization revealed notable differences in associations between AMR and AAEs, compared with traditional dichotomous categorization, with worse performance in Black children.
The AMR performed poorly in identifying risk of adverse outcomes among Medicaid-enrolled children with asthma. These findings underscore concerns of the utility of the AMR in population health management and reliance on restrictive HEDIS definitions. New population health frameworks incorporating broader considerations that accurately identify at-risk children are needed to improve equity in asthma management and outcomes.