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Managing Care? Medicare Managed Care and Patient Use of Cardiologists

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Objective. To examine the impact of Medicare managed care (MMC) versus Medicare fee for service (MFFS) on stent patients' use of physicians with lower resource use and better outcomes.

Data Sources/Study Setting. Retrospective secondary data from 2003 through 2006 for 67,476 patients without acute myocardial infarction, staying 2 or more days in hospital, and treated by 486 physicians in Florida performing 10 or more cases per quarter.

Study Design. Analysis was at the patient level. Multivariate logistic models estimated the probability of an MMC patient using a physician with a particular risk-adjusted profile rank with respect to hospital peers.

Principal Findings. No differences were found in usage of physicians with shorter admissions. Compared with MFFS, MMC patients were significantly less likely to use physicians whose average mortality was the lowest/lowest quartiles/below median among facility peers, and more likely to use a physician ranked below median on live discharges directly home (not needing home health care, skilled nursing care, or a subacute hospital convalescence). Similar results were found with emergency admissions, and where physicians both attended and treated.

Conclusions. Florida percutaneous coronary interventions patients insured by MMC used physicians with worse outcome profiles than those of MFFS patients. Results were not consistent with hospital care differences, physician–patient, or payor–physician selection, but they were consistent with selection of unobservably sicker members into MMC and concentration of MMC among physicians.

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