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Rural Health


Congress is currently debating legislation that would not only add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare but create an unprecedented role for private health insurers in delivering all Medicare services. Such changes would have profound effects on the 41 million people covered by Medicare -- particularly the one in four who lives in rural America. Previous studies have shown that rural beneficiaries have different health care needs and delivery systems than their urban counterparts. Indeed, the bills that passed the House and Senate address payments to rural hospitals and other providers. However, less attention has been paid to the rural beneficiary implications of the prescription drug benefit and private plan reforms included in the Medicare legislation. This study does so, through new data analysis and synthesis of existing information.

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