Trends in Health Disparities of Rural Latinos Pre- and Post-Accountable Care Organization Implementation

Res Sociol Health Care. 2022;39:173-187. doi: 10.1108/s0275-495920220000039013. Epub 2022 Mar 28.


PURPOSE: We present findings from a longitudinal investigation, the purpose of which was to compare health disparities of rural Latino older adult patients diagnosed with diabetes to their non-Latino White counterparts.

METHODOLOGY/APPROACH: A pre-post design was implemented treating Medicare Accountable Care Organization (ACO) participation by Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) as an intervention, and using diabetes-related hospitalizations to measure disparities. Data for a nationwide panel of 2,683 RHCs were analyzed for a study period of eight years: 2008 – 2015. In addition, data were analyzed for a subset of 116 RHCs located in Florida, Texas, and California that participated in a Medicare ACO in one or more years of the study period.

FINDINGS: Two broad findings resulted from this investigation. First, for both the nationwide panel of RHCs and the three-state sample of “ACO RHCs,” there was a decrease in the mean disparities in diabetes-related hospitalization rates over the eight-year study period. Second, in comparing a three-year time period after Medicare ACO implementation in 2012 to a four-year period before the implementation, a statistically significant difference in mean disparities was found for the nationwide panel.

RESEARCH LIMITATIONS/IMPLICATIONS: There are a number of factors that may contribute to the decrease in diabetes-related hospitalization rates for Latinos in more recent years. Future research will identify specific contributors to reducing diabetes-related hospitalization disparities between Latinos and the general population, including the possible influence of ACO participation by RHCs.

ORIGINALITY/VALUE OF PAPER: This paper presents original research conducted using data related to rural Latino older adults. The data represent multiple states and an eight-year time period. The U.S. Latino population is growing at a rapid pace. As a group, they are at a high risk for developing diabetes, the complications of which are serious and costly to the patient and the U.S. healthcare system. With the continued growth of the Latino population, it is critical that their health disparities be monitored, and that factors that contribute to their health and well-being be identified and promoted.

PMID:35418719 | PMC:PMC9000292 | DOI:10.1108/s0275-495920220000039013