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Geospatial Analysis Center

Populations 65+ and more than 15 miles from the nearest pharmacy in rural areas and summarized by Minnesota County in 1992 and 2002

Stacey Stark (GAC), Stephen Schondelmeyer and Jon Schommer (UM Pharmacy)

Data were summarized by county for residents 65+ years for each county using different definitions of rural (RUCA, RUCC, zipcode density) and different definitions of distance (straight-line vs. road distance).

The degree to which the current access standard offers protection to rural beneficiaries depends on the definition of rural. The access standard that they speak of is that 70% of beneficiaries within a rural area must live within 15 miles of a network pharmacy provider. Minnesota is one state where access standards can be met while still excluding high numbers of beneficiaries. The National Rural Health Association recognizes the unique situation of rural pharmaceutical care and its importance to the health of rural beneficiaries. Access is a key element to protecting rural pharmaceutical care. They recommend that “beneficiaries have reasonable access to all medical services, including having essential services within a reasonable distance/time of their residence.”

This study explores how the definition of “rural” area currently in the Medicare Modernization Act access standards might affect this analysis and beneficiaries in Minnesota. The distance traveled to the nearest pharmacy in rural areas is summarized for rural areas using three different definitions.

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