Resources: FAQs

Get answers to our most frequently asked questions (FAQs).

To access a category of questions, click the category in the navigation pane to the right. To access a question's response, click the question.

Data Authorization

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Does my Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Data Use Agreement (DUA) automatically renew? If not, how do I renew it?

CMS does not automatically renew your CMS DUA, which always expires one year after you received it.

To start the renewal process, contact the CMS DUA team at datauseagreement@cms.hhs.gov. We recommend renewing your DUA before the expiration data to avoid any lapses in your data authorization.

Once CMS has issued your CMS DUA renewal, please send us a copy of the updated form for our records.

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What do I need to do when my Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Data Use Agreement (DUA) expires, and I no longer need MedRIC-provided CMS data?

If you no longer need our data, you must destroy all of it per CMS requirements.

To ensure that your data is disposed of properly, review and complete CMS's Certificate of Disposition (COD) on CMS's DUA Forms website page. Then, complete MedRIC's Certificate of Destruction (CoD).

For a copy of MedRIC's CoD, contact MedRIC Support at medric@acumenllc.com.

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Can I use my MedRIC-provided CMS data for more than the one year specified on my Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Data Use Agreement (DUA)?

Your CMS DUA expires annually, and you cannot continue to use CMS data without a valid CMS DUA. However, you can work with CMS to renew your DUA as many times as you need to complete your study. Todo so, contact the CMS DUA team at datauseagreement@cms.hhs.gov.

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Can I reuse MedRIC-provided data on a new study if the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has only authorized me to use the data for my current study?

CMS decides whether or not you may reuse your MedRIC-provided CMS data for a new study. To obtain CMS approval to reuse your CMS data, please contact the Research Data Assistance Center (ResDAC); they will guide you through the process.

At MedRIC, we establish Data Licensing Agreements (DLAs) on a per-study basis. This means that, if CMS approves your reuse of your MedRIC-provided data for your new study, you will still need to pay our annual $1,000 licensing fee to reuse the data for your new study.

NOTE: You may only use the data authorized by CMS and the relevant survey partner for your new study. To help you meet this requirement, we will always provide you with copies of the data files authorized for your new study.

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Will I get raw Medicare and/or Medicaid data as part of my MedRIC data shipments?

MedRIC data files contain raw Medicare/Medicaid data. However, your access to all of these data depends on the encryption policies that our survey partner has set for your CMS data. These policies establish three versions or "levels" of data: Standard, Geographic, and Provider.

The Standard version encrypts or omits all personally identifiable information (PII) in Medicare and Medicaid data. The Geographic version contains all Standard data plus information on beneficiaries' residences, such as state and zip code. The Provider version includes Standard and Geographic data plus provider characteristics, such as Institutional Provider Numbers.

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The data request process mentions training requirements for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) data. What are they?

To access CMS data, you must complete all CMS training requirements. For information on these requirements and how to complete them, contact CMS at CBT@cms.hhv.gov.

Enclave

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What is the MedRIC enclave, and how do I access it?

The MedRIC Enclave is a secure desktop that enables authorized users to analyze CMS and NIA survey data. For more Enclave information, visit the Enclave Page.

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Can I store the data files I receive from MedRIC in my institution's secure enclave?

CMS, not MedRIC, decides whether your institution's secure enclave meets CMS security requirements. To determine whether your institution’s enclave does, contact the Research Data Assistance Center (ResDAC) at resdac@umn.edu.

License and Payment

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What is the MedRIC Data Licensing Agreement (DLA)?

The MedRIC DLA is a standard set of terms that define the CMS data that you'll get from us, the fees we charge for our services, and the legal obligations each of us has to other.

NOTE: You must obtain a Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Data Use Agreement (DUA) and survey approval before you can complete a MedRIC DLA.

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What are the steps for establishing a MedRIC Data Licensing Agreement (DLA)?

To establish a MedRIC Data Licensing Agreement, you must:

  1. Get an NIA survey partner’s approval to use the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) data of their survey participants for your research project.
  2. Establish a CMS Data Use Agreement (DUA) through the Research Data Assistance Center (ResDAC).
  3. Send us a copy of your CMS DUA materials, including the:

    • MedRIC Request Form;
    • Survey Partner Approval Letter; and
    • If applicable, the Long-Term Care Minimum Data Set (MDS) justification workbooks (2.0/3.0).
  4. Sign the MedRIC DLA that we send you.
  5. Pay the invoice that we send you.

Once we have received and processed your DLA and payment, we will prepare your data and distribute it to you.

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What fees does MedRIC charge for data requests?

Instead of request-based fees, we charge an annual data licensing fee of $1,000.

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What does the licensing fee cover, and how do I pay it?

Our annual licensing fee covers the cost of extracting your Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) data files, distributing your data files to you, and responding to your data-related questions (e.g., what’s on our data, what it means, and what it is used for). Our annual licensing fee does not include any costs for purchasing CMS data.

To pay your annual licensing fee, either write a check to MedRIC or work with us to complete a wire transfer. Unfortunately, we do not accept credit card payments.

Refunds: We do not issue refunds in the event of complications with your DUA.

Additional Fees: CMS, the Research Data Assistance Center (ResDAC), or your study-relevant NIH survey may have fees in addition to our fees.

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I have reviewed the MedRIC Data License Agreement (DLA), and I want to make changes to some of the terms before I sign it. What should I do?

We worked with the National Institute on Aging (NIA) to make the DLA a standard agreement for all researchers. Because NIA oversees MedRIC's operations, we cannot implement changes to the MedRIC Data License Agreement (DLA)'s terms without NIA's approval.

As a result, we have established an annual DLA review process with NIA, which typically occurs in the fall. This process consists of:

  1. compiling all the DLA feedback that our researcher affiliates have provided throughout a given year;
  2. reconciling that feedback into coherent DLA revisions for NIA to review; and
  3. obtaining NIA's authorization to implement said revisions.

If your organization chooses to wait until the fall for any edits to the terms and conditions of the DLA, we will revisit the DLA with you once we have NIA's feedback. Please bear in mind, though, that any suggested edits must work for all organizations (e.g., public and private universities as well as non-profit agencies) that have already signed the DLA. NIA may therefore refuse to accept your organization's suggested edits.

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a new data set. How do I add that data to my request?

If you want to add data to your MedRIC Data License Agreement (DLA), you must:

  1. obtain a new letter of approval from your survey partner;
  2. update your CMS Data Use Agreement (DUA);
  3. send both your survey letter and CMS DUA documents to us, after which we'll send you an updated DLA to sign; and
  4. sign the updated DLA.

NOTE: You can add new data to your DUA without paying any additional fees to MedRIC. However, you need to work with ResDAC to determine if there are additional fees for amending your DUA.

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I am gathering the materials I need to renew my MedRIC Data License Agreement (DLA). Which items do I need to include in my request for renewal?

We will send you a renewal reminder 30 days before your DLA expiration. This reminder will include our MedRIC DLA renewal form and DLA invoice.

To renew your MedRIC Data License Agreement (DLA), you must submit the following items:

  • the MedRIC DLA renewal form (we will send this form to you);
  • a copy of your most recent survey approval;
  • a copy of your most recent Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Data Use Agreement (DUA);
  • a copy of the MedRIC Request Form that CMS most recently approved for your study; and
  • payment (check or wire transfer) for our $1,000 annual licensing fee.

If you are requesting Long-Term Care Minimum Data Set (MDS), then you will also need to submit ResDAC's MDS 2.0 and/or 3.0 justification workbooks.

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If I don't plan to change the CMS data I currently have access to, do I still need to fill out the "Additional Files and/or File Years" table on the MedRIC Data License Agreement (DLA) update form?

If you do not plan to update or change the CMS data you already have, then you do not need to fill out the "Additional Files and/or File Years" table on the MedRIC Data License Agreement (DLA) update form.

MedRIC Data

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What data file types and years are available in MedRIC's CMS data inventory? And what do I do if you don't have the file type or year of data that I am interested in?

For a full list of the data files available in MedRIC's data inventory, please visit the Data Inventory Page.

If you are interested in a data type or year(s) not available in our inventory, contact MedRIC Support at medric@acumenllc.com. We continuously work with NIH to increase the types of available data files, but we can not guarantee that we will be able to add your desired data file(s) to our inventory.

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I am looking for a specific CMS variable or a particular set of CMS variables. How do I determine whether the variable(s) will be in the data file(s) that MedRIC sends me?

We recommend reviewing the Data Documentation page to determine whether our MedRIC research files contain the data you need. Depending on the encryption specifications that your NIH survey sets for your CMS data—Standard, Geographic, or Provider, you may be restricted from accessing certain variables.

For Assessment data and Part D Event data files, you must select the variables you need for your study in your Research Data Assistance Center (ResDAC) request materials. If CMS approves these variables, you will receive your requested variables in the data files we distribute to you.

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What do I do if my data files have missing years or variables?

We can only provide you with the data that your Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Data Use Agreement (DUA) and survey partner approval letter authorize you to receive. These data may not include all of the data and years specified in our most recent data dictionary update.

In addition, certain files may not be available in our data inventory due to low record counts, survey encryption specifications, or because we are pending CMS authorization to release data.

If you think that you should have access to certain variables or years of data that you do not currently have, email us at medric@acumenllc.com. We will then help you to determine the source of the missing data variables or years.

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Is it possible for me to receive CMS data files in a file format other than SAS (e.g., R or Stata)?

You can request one of three file formats in our MedRIC Request Form: R, SAS, and Stata.

If you have any data conversion requests or questions, email medric@acumenllc.com, and we'll respond shortly.

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How do I merge survey data with MedRIC's Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) data?

You merge CMS and survey data using our crosswalk file. This file maps MedRIC-generated beneficiary identifiers (BIDs) to survey participant identifiers.

To obtain a crosswalk file for your survey and CMS data sets, contact either:

  • the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) for the HRS survey data set; or
  • MedRIC for all other survey data sets.

In your email, state which data files you need to merge.

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Can I study dual-eligible beneficiaries—that is, beneficiaries who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid benefits—using MedRIC's data inventory?

Yes, you can.

For HRS-specific research projects, you will need our Medicare-Medicaid crosswalk file, which we call our "Medicare-Medicaid conversion file." This Medicare-Medicaid conversion file maps MedRIC-generated beneficiary identifiers (BIDs) for Medicare beneficiaries to MedRIC-generated BIDs for Medicaid beneficiaries.

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Can I link publicly available files with MedRIC data files?

Since linking public use files (PUF) and MedRIC sensitive data files may produce re-identification risks, you'll need to contact the survey organization that governs rights to your survey data set to determine what's permissible.

Even if you receive approval for linking PUF and MedRIC files from the survey organization, having access to insufficient identifiers could limit your ability to link PUF to our CMS data sets.

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Do you offer consultation services relative to my research methodologies?

Unfortunately, we do not offer consultation services for methodology-related questions. However, you can reach out to the Research Data Assistance Center (ResDAC) for suggestions.