As growing numbers of Medicaid enrollees receive health benefits through comprehensive managed care, the researchers and policymakers seeking to understand the service use of these enrollees must rely on encounter data that states receive from managed care plans. Although encounter data provide insight into the service use of comprehensive managed care enrollees, not all states report encounter data, and little is known about the data's usability. In this issue brief, we assess the availability, completeness and quality of the inpatient and prescription-drug encounter data in the Medicaid Analytical eXtract (MAX) system in order to judge the data's usability.
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