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CMS Report Finds Rural Residents Receive Worse Clinical Care than Urban Residents

A report from the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) describes the quality of health care received in 2017 by Medicare beneficiaries nationwide. Specifically, the report – Rural-Urban Disparities in Health Care in Medicare – highlights rural-urban differences in health care experiences and clinical care and looks at how these differences vary by race and ethnicity. The report is based on an analysis of two sources of information. The first source is the Medicare Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) Survey, which is conducted annually by CMS and focuses on health care experiences (e.g., ease of getting needed care, how well providers communicate, and getting needed prescription drugs) of Medicare beneficiaries across the nation. The second source of information is the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS). The focus of this report is on rural-urban differences in quality of care that exist at the national level. This analysis revealed a pattern in which rural residents, regardless of race or ethnicity, commonly received worse clinical care than urban residents. Future research is needed to understand whether this pattern reflects poorer dissemination of clinical practice guidelines to rural areas, poorer translation of those guidelines into clinical practice, or some other cause.

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