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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Medicare Spending, The Physician Workforce, and Beneficiarie' Quality of Care


The quality of care received by Medicare beneficiaries varies across areas. We find that states with higher Medicare spending have lower-quality care. This negative relationship may be driven by the use of intensive, costly care that crowds out the use of more effective care. One mechanism for this trade-off may be the mix of the provider workforce: States with more general practitioners use more effective care and have lower spending, while those with more specialists have higher costs and lower quality. Improving the quality of beneficiaries’ care could be accomplished with more effective use of existing dollars.

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