Popul Health Manag. 2022 Jun 15. doi: 10.1089/pop.2022.0062. Online ahead of print.
The purpose of this study was 2-fold: (1) to analyze the change in diabetes-related hospitalization rates of rural Latino older adult patients as compared with their White counterparts and (2) to determine what factors, including rural health clinic (RHC) participation in accountable care organizations (ACOs), are related to reduced disparities in diabetes-related hospitalization rates. Data for Latino Medicare beneficiaries who were served by RHCs over an 8-year period were analyzed. First, a difference-of-means test was conducted to determine whether there was a change in disparity from the pre-ACO period (2008-2011) to the post-ACO period (2012-2015). A statistically significant decrease in disparity over time was found (t = -7.6899, df = 115, P < 0.001.) Second, multiple regression analyses of 3 separate models were conducted to determine whether ACO participation contributed to reducing disparities in diabetes-related hospitalization rates between Latinos and Whites. The analyses indicated moderate evidence that consistent ACO participation is associated with lower health disparities (t = -1.947, P = 0.0525). However, this association is not significant after balancing covariates, and no causal relationship can be established. Latinos compose one of the fastest growing groups in rural as well as urban areas of the United States. It is critical that ACOs, with their emphasis on care coordination, health care quality, and value, monitor their provision of services to Latinos, rural, and other vulnerable populations.