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Do Report Cards Predict Future Quality? The Case of Skilled Nursing Facilities -- by Portia Y. Cornell, David C. Grabowski, Edward C. Norton, Momotazur Rahman

Report cards on provider performance are intended to improve consumer decision-making and address information gaps in the market for quality. However, inadequate risk adjustment of report-card measures often biases comparisons across providers. We test whether going to a skilled nursing facility (SNF) with a higher star rating affects outcomes for a patient. We exploit variation over time in the distance from a patient’s residential ZIP code to SNFs with different ratings to estimate the causal effect of admission to a higher-rated SNF on health care outcomes, including mortality. We found that patients who go to higher-rated SNFs experience lower mortality, fewer days in the nursing home, and fewer hospital readmissions.
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