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J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2017;28(4):1245-1253. doi: 10.1353/hpu.2017.0111.

Regional Variations in the Interpretation of the End-Stage Renal Disease Thirty-Month Coordination Period: Potential Implications for Patient Care.


Chronic kidney disease is a non-communicable disease that is now well recognized as a major source of premature morbidity and mortality. In general, racial/ethnic minorities in the United States are more likely than non-minority groups to develop end-stage renal disease (ESRD), but paradoxically most have a lower mortality risk. Unlike most minorities, dialysis patients in Puerto Rico have a mortality risk nearly 50% higher than the national average. Multiple factors such as medical conditions, socioeconomic, environmental, and health system factors can influence health outcomes for patients with ESRD. We describe one potential health system factor that may contribute to this finding, a unique interpretation and implementation of the ESRD Medicare Secondary Payer provision in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. We conducted a search of regulatory documents and key stakeholder interviews to help envision the potential implications of these differences for dialysis facilities, health care providers, and patients with ESRD.

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