Medicare

Current Projects

  • A Closer Examination of Rural Hospital Bypass
    This project will estimate the rural hospital bypass rate using all-payer claims data for a set of states and compare patients based on the inpatient treatments and procedures received relative to those routinely provided by rural facilities.
    Research center: Rural Health Equity Research Center
    Topics: Critical Access Hospitals, Health reform, Health services, Healthcare access, Hospitals and clinics, Medicaid and CHIP, Medicare, Medicare Advantage (MA), Minority health, Private health insurance, Uninsured and underinsured
  • A Comparison of 2017-2019 Uncompensated Care of Rural and Urban Hospitals and a First Look at Uncompensated Care in 2020 and 2021
    This project will compare 2017-2019 uncompensated care as a percent of operating expense for rural and urban hospitals and investigate uncompensated care data for 2020 and 2021.
    Research center: North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center
    Topics: Hospitals and clinics, Medicare
  • Alternative Methods for Defining Rural Hospital Service Area Market
    Options for describing the population served by a rural hospital are limited; geopolitical areas such as counties are convenient, but ZIP-based methods may be more accurate. In this project, we will consider multiple options that tradeoff ease, accuracy, ability to capture trends, and availability.
    Research center: North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center
    Topics: Hospitals and clinics, Medicare
  • Availability, Care Practices, and Quality of Hospice Providers Serving Rural versus Urban Communities
    This project will examine differences in availability of hospice care in rural versus urban communities as well as provider-level quality and care practices by rural-urban status of hospices. Findings will highlight potential rural-urban disparities in hospice care that can be used to inform future Medicare policy.
    Research center: WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Topics: Aging, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), Health disparities and health equity, Health services, Healthcare access, Hospice and palliative care, Medicare, Quality
  • Comparing Utilization and Quality of Home Health Care Between Medicare Fee-for-Service and Medicare Advantage Beneficiaries by Rural-Urban Status
    This project examines differences in home health use and quality by enrollment in Medicare Fee-for-Service (FFS) versus Medicare Advantage (MA) plans. Findings will include information on rural-urban and intra-rural variation in home health care to inform policies on access, payment, and quality for Medicare FFS and MA plans.
    Research center: WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Topics: Aging, Allied health professionals, Health disparities and health equity, Health services, Healthcare access, Healthcare financing, Home health, Medicare, Medicare Advantage (MA), Post-acute care, Quality
  • Developing a Post-COVID Financial Distress Index
    This project will update and improve the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program's Financial Distress Index, which uses historical data about hospital financial performance, government reimbursement, organizational characteristics, and market characteristics to predict the current risk of financial distress.
    Research center: North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center
    Topics: Hospitals and clinics, Medicare
  • Differences in Rural and Urban Hospital Cost Structures: Evidence and Implications
    The project will compare fixed-to-variable cost ratios in U.S. rural and urban hospitals. We hypothesize that rural hospitals will realize proportionally greater fixed costs than urban hospitals, suggesting important hospital payment system implications.
    Research center: RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis
    Topics: Health reform, Healthcare financing, Medicare
  • Estimation of the Fixed and Variable Costs of a Rural Emergency Hospital
    This project will: 1) inform the design of CMS Rural Emergency Hospital (REH) payment methods, particularly the Medicare monthly additional facility payment; 2) estimate patient break-even volumes for the long-run financial sustainability of REHs; and; 3) provide a tool that rural hospitals can use to estimate the cost of operating a REH.
    Research center: North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center
    Topics: Hospitals and clinics, Legislation and regulation, Medicare
  • Examining Differences in Rural and Urban Medicare FFS Beneficiaries' Emergency Department Use Pre-COVID-19 and During COVID-19
    This study describes and compares the differences in the utilization of emergency department (ED) services among rural and urban Medicare Fee-For-Service enrollees during 2018-2021. We will identify factors associated with differences in ED use, including shifts in volume, primary diagnoses, and admission source, before and since the COVID-19 public health emergency in rural and urban areas.
    Research center: Rural Health Equity Research Center
    Topics: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), Critical Access Hospitals, Emergency medical services and trauma, Health disparities and health equity, Healthcare access, Hospitals and clinics, Medicare, Social determinants of health
  • Examining the Potential Impact of Multiple Payment Policies on Rural Versus Urban Home Health Agencies
    This study estimates the impact of three recent and upcoming Medicare home health payment policies (revised rural add-on payments, new prospective payment system, and value-based purchasing demonstration) on reimbursement for home health agencies based on rural-urban status, community factors, and home health agency characteristics.
    Research center: WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Topics: Health services, Healthcare access, Healthcare financing, Home health, Medicare, Post-acute care
  • Health Care Use and Access Among Rural and Urban Elderly Medicare Beneficiaries
    This project will examine rural-urban differences in healthcare use and access to healthcare services among elderly Medicare enrollees using the 2011-2013 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey. We also will identify the socioeconomic and health factors that may place rural seniors at risk for poor healthcare access.
    Research center: Maine Rural Health Research Center
    Topics: Aging, Medicare
  • Hierarchical Condition Category (HCC) Risk Scores: Designed to Predict Future Cost and Health Care Resource Use – Do They Also Accurately Reflect Differences in Health Status between Rural and Urban Beneficiaries?
    This CMS Hierarchical Condition Category (CMS-HCC) risk score study will investigate differences in underlying health between rural and urban populations using recent data and analyze which factors drive observed differences.
    Research center: Rural Health Equity Research Center
    Topics: Health disparities and health equity, Health services, Healthcare access, Hospitals and clinics, Medicaid and CHIP, Medicare, Medicare Advantage (MA)
  • How Does Participation in Medicare Accountable Care Organizations Affect Rural Hospital Financial Outcomes?
    This project will examine the impact of Medicare Accountable Care Organizations' (ACOs') participation on rural hospitals' financial outcomes. Findings from this project will provide policy-relevant information on how ACO participation affects rural hospitals' financial bottom lines, contributing to further program design.
    Research center: RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis
    Topics: Care management, Health reform, Health services, Hospitals and clinics, Medicare
  • Low Volume Hospitals
    This analysis will compare rural low volume hospitals (LVHs) to non-LVH characteristics and estimate the financial impact of eliminating the LVH program and reverting to the original (2005) LVH classification and payment adjustment.
    Research center: North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center
    Topics: Hospitals and clinics, Medicare
  • Medicare Advantage Plan Growth in Rural America: Opportunities for Beneficiaries?
    County Medicare Advantage enrollment data and plan characteristic data will be used to create a model accounting for the availability of plans offering benefits addressing social determinants of health. Analyses will compare rural and urban counties, and examine county characteristics to explore potential equitable opportunities for rural beneficiaries because of geography and other factors.
    Research center: RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis
    Topics: Medicare, Medicare Advantage (MA), Medicare Part D, Social determinants of health, Telehealth, Transportation
  • Prevalence of Opioid Prescribing, Diagnoses of Opioid Use Disorder, Treatment Patterns, and Costs Among Rural Medicare Beneficiaries
    Opioid use disorder (OUD) diagnoses among the aged and disabled are among the highest and fastest growing. This study uses the 2010-2017 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey to examine opioid prescribing rates and explore risk factors associated with OUDs and associated treatment patterns and costs within rural and urban Medicare populations.
    Research center: Maine Rural Health Research Center
    Topics: Medicare, Pharmacy and prescription drugs, Substance use and treatment
  • Rural-based Accountable Care Organizations Accepting Downside Risk
    The RUPRI Center will update its studies of rural provider participation in accountable care organizations, including differences between those who exit the program, those who remain, and those who enter. In particular, this project will address participation decisions made after a rule change in July 2019 that requires conversion to two-sided risk.
    Research center: RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis
    Topics: Critical Access Hospitals, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), Health reform, Hospitals and clinics, Legislation and regulation, Medicare
  • Rural/Urban and Racial/Ethnic Inequities in Patient-Reported Health Care Access and Quality among Medicare Beneficiaries with Lung or Colorectal Cancer
    Incidence and mortality for colorectal and lung cancer are higher among rural versus urban residents, but many rural cancer patients lack accessible, high-quality care. This study will 1) Identify rural/urban inequities in Medicare cancer patient-reported health care access and quality and 2) Determine if rural racial/ethnic minority patients have worse health care access and quality than rural White patients.
    Research center: Rural and Underserved Health Research Center
    Topics: Cancer, Health disparities and health equity, Healthcare access, Maternal health, Medicare, Minority health, Quality
  • Rural/Urban Differences in Forgoing Health Care during the COVID-19 Pandemic
    Several surveys conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic showed that adults delayed or skipped healthcare services during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic. This study examines changes in healthcare utilization for primary and preventative care among rural and urban Medicare fee-for-service enrollees since the COVID-19 pandemic.
    Research center: Rural Health Equity Research Center
    Topics: Aging, Care management, Chronic diseases and conditions, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), Diabetes, Health disparities and health equity, Health promotion and disease prevention, Health services, Medicare, Mental and behavioral health, Minority health, Telehealth
  • Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) Penetration in Rural vs. Urban Healthcare Settings in the U.S.
    This study will include an analysis of 2018/2019 Medicare, Medicaid and Commercial claims to compare the penetration of Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) and its different components in rural compared to urban healthcare settings. Within the overarching analysis, the study team will examine the type of interventions conducted within the SBIRT framework stratified by provider type, healthcare setting, and rural and urban provider ZIP codes. Findings will be analyzed within the context of county-level substance use rates, historical enactment of state SBIRT billing codes, overdoses, and alcohol poisoning-based hospital admissions contrasting trends in SBIRT administration with a proxy for community need.
    Research center: Rural Health Equity Research Center
    Topics: Chronic diseases and conditions, Health promotion and disease prevention, Medicaid and CHIP, Medicare, Mental and behavioral health, Private health insurance, Public health, Substance use and treatment
  • Third Party Negotiated Pricing in Rural and Urban Hospitals
    We will use third party negotiated pricing information to compare prices in urban and rural hospitals, across a variety of common services. Because there has been poor compliance with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) requirement to publish third party negotiated pricing, we will also examine if the availability of this information differs for rural and urban hospitals.
    Research center: Rural and Underserved Health Research Center
    Topics: Critical Access Hospitals, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), Healthcare financing, Hospitals and clinics, Medicare, Medicare Prospective Payment System (PPS), Private health insurance
  • Understanding Rural Health Clinic Services, Use, and Reimbursement
    This study describes the scope and intensity of services provided to Medicare beneficiaries by independent and provider-based Rural Health Clinics. It will also assess the adequacy of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' changes to the outpatient evaluation and management codes in 2021 compared to the 2021 per-visit reimbursement cap.
    Research center: Maine Rural Health Research Center
    Topics: Health services, Healthcare financing, Hospitals and clinics, Medicare, Rural Health Clinics (RHCs)
  • Use of Z Codes by Rural and Urban Providers to Capture Data on the Social Determinants of Health Impacting Medicare Beneficiaries
    Using a mixed methods approach, we will examine the use of Z codes by rural and urban providers to better capture information on the social determinants of health experienced by Medicare beneficiaries across the rural continuum.
    Research center: Maine Rural Health Research Center
    Topics: Health services, Medicare, Physicians, Social determinants of health