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Pay-for-performance and public reporting programs may have a neutral, narrowing, or widening effect on racial disparities in health care. The authors begin this article by suggesting that certain characteristics of these programs may affect disparities. They then present results from a systematic review of the literature on the effects of performance incentive programs on racial disparities in health care. The review revealed that only one empirical study provided data on this issue: It showed that a major public reporting program increased disparities in coronary artery bypass graft rates. The authors then present the results of interviews with leaders of 15 major performance incentive programs in the United States. The interviews indicated that current programs are not designed to reduce disparities and often lack characteristics that may be important in reducing disparities. The article concludes with program leaders’ recommendations on how performance incentive programs could be designed to reduce disparities.

performance incentives, pay for performance, public reporting, racial disparities, quality