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Find Out What's Going On in Local Health Care Markets Across the Country

HSC Media Briefing Scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 24, at the National Press Club

Media Advisory
Aug. 17, 2005

Alwyn Cassil (202) 264-3484 or

Editor’s Note: To obtain an electronic copy of the Health Affairs articles, reporters may e-mail Alwyn Cassil at

WASHINGTON, DC—Comparing the perspectives of rural and urban physicians and patients, the first of two Health Affairs articles by Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) researchers found that access to and quality of medical care generally are equivalent or superior in rural areas compared with urban areas. However, rural residents have greater difficulty obtaining mental health services and generally face greater financial barriers to care.

The study—"Access and Quality: Does Rural America Lag Behind?" by HSC Senior Researcher James Reschovsky, Ph.D., and Andrea Staiti, an HSC health research analyst—used a broad set of indicators from the 2000-01 HSC Community Tracking Study Physician and Household Surveys to compare access to care between rural and urban areas. The two surveys include information on 12,406 physicians and 59,725 individuals, respectively.

In a second article—"Geography and Destiny: Local Market Perspectives on Developing Medicare Advantage Regional Plans," Robert Hurley, Ph.D., an HSC consulting researcher and associate professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, and coauthors Bradley Strunk and Joy Grossman, Ph.D., both HSC researchers, explore health plan perspectives on offering regional Medicare Advantage preferred provider organizations (PPOs).

The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act (MMA) of 2003 established regional PPOs as a new private-plan option for beneficiaries in the Medicare Advantage (MA) program, starting in 2006. Developing network-based Medicare products uniformly priced across statewide or multistate regions presents unprecedented challenges and opportunities for health insurers. Researchers held discussions with local health plan and hospital representatives in six metropolitan communities to obtain their perspectives on key considerations in evaluating whether they can and will offer regional PPO products under the MA program.

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The Center for Studying Health System Change is a nonpartisan policy research organization committed to providing objective and timely research on the nation’s changing health system to help inform policy makers and contribute to better health care policy. HSC, based in Washington, D.C., is funded principally by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and is affiliated with Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

Health Affairs, published by Project HOPE, is the leading journal of health policy.


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The Center for Studying Health System Change Ceased operation on Dec. 31, 2013.