Tracking Medicaid Managed Care in Rural Communities: A Fifty-State Follow-Up

Health Affairs

Updates a 1997 study examining implementation of rural Medicaid managed care programs. Among its findings are that there have been significant state-level changes in the types of programs offered; there has been an overall increase in the percentage of urban and rural counties with Medicaid managed care programs; and SCHIP expansion has had little impact on the operation of fully capitated Medicaid managed care programs in rural areas because the increased number of children covered has not been large enough to affect health plans' participation. Concludes that looking only at the increase in rural Medicaid managed care since 1997 could lead to a false impression. While the number of rural counties with fully capitated programs has increased, states' more recent experiences suggest that health plans are pulling out of rural areas just as they are pulling out of urban ones. States may find it difficult to find commercial Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) willing to participate in Medicaid managed care at prices that states can afford.

North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center
Pam Silberman, Stephanie Poley, Kerry James, Rebecca Slifkin