This project will provide information about the provision of observation care services in rural hospitals and organizational, geographic, and patient characteristics associated with their utilization. It will also identify key rural Medicare beneficiary and rural provider related issues and explore options for minimizing unintended negative consequences that could result from the implementation of future guidelines and policies concerning the provision of observation care services in rural communities. Descriptive statistics will be used to profile the nature and scope of observation care services by patient, hospital, and market characteristics, using secondary data from Medicare hospital outpatient claims, Provider of Service data and AHA Annual Survey data. Qualitative data analysis will be used to profile key issues for rural Medicare beneficiaries and rural providers concerning observation care services and to identify state efforts to address these concerns.
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