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 National Institute on Aging (NIA) Data Use Agreement (DUA) automatically renew? If not, how do I renew it?

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

To start the renewal process, contact our team at MedRIC@AcumenLLC.com. We recommend renewing your DUA before the expiration data to avoid any lapses in your data authorization.

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What do I need to do when my National Institute on Aging (NIA) Data Use Agreement (DUA) expires, and I no longer need MedRIC-provided CMS data?

If you no longer need our data, you must close out your NIA DUA and MedRIC Enclave access per NIA requirements.

To initiate this close out, contact our MedRIC Support team 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 National Institute on Aging (NIA) Data Use Agreement (DUA)?

Your NIA DUA expires annually, and you cannot continue to use CMS data without a valid NIA DUA. However, you can work with NIA to renew your DUA as many times as you need to complete your study. To do so, contact our MedRIC Support team at MedRIC@AcumenLLC.com.

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Can I reuse MedRIC-provided data on a new study if the National Institute on Aging (NIA) has only authorized me to use the data for my current study?

NIA decides whether or not you may reuse your MedRIC-provided CMS data for a new study. To obtain NIA approval to reuse your CMS data, please contact our MedRIC Support team at MedRIC@AcumenLLC.com.

NOTE: You may only use the data authorized by NIA and the relevant study or 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 datasets?

MedRIC data files contain raw Medicare/Medicaid data. However, your access to all of these data depends on the encryption policies that a study or 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 virtual desktop that enables authorized users to analyze CMS and NIA study or 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?

NIA, not MedRIC, decides whether your institution's secure enclave meets CMS security requirements. To determine whether your institution’s enclave does, contact our MedRIC Support team at MedRIC@AcumenLLC.com.

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 NIA 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 NIA study or 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 NIA data request materials. If NIA 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 NIA Data Use Agreement (DUA) and study or survey partner approval materials 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, study or 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 Data 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 study or survey data with MedRIC's Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) data?

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

To obtain a crosswalk file for your CMS and study or survey 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," to do so. 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's CMS data files?

Since linking public use files (PUF) and MedRIC's sensitive CMS data files may produce re-identification risks, you'll need to contact the study or survey organization that governs rights to your study or 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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If I create new summary CMS data variables off of the CMS data files that I receive from MedRIC, can I share those new summary variables with other researchers who are not affiliated with my study?

Unfortunately, no. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) does not permit researchers to share derived or summarized variables with other researchers without CMS's authorization. However, you can share any programs you used to create these variables with others, provided that those programs do not have hard-coded CMS data values within them.

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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.

MedRIC Master Access Agreement (MAA) and Fees

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What is the MedRIC Master Access Agreement (MAA)?

The MedRIC MAA is a standard set of terms that define the CMS data that you'll get from us and the legal obligations each of us has to other.

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What are the steps for establishing a Master Access Agreement (MAA)?

To establish a MedRIC Master Access Agreement (MAA), you must:

  1. Download the data request package from our website.
  2. Complete the MAA document.
  3. Submit the MAA with the rest of your request materials.
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What fees does MedRIC charge for data requests?

We do not charge any fees for data requests.

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I have reviewed the MedRIC Master Access Agreement (MAA), 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 MAA a standard agreement for all researchers. Because NIA oversees MedRIC's operations, we cannot implement changes to the MedRIC MAA's terms without NIA's approval.

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

  1. compiling all the MAA feedback that our researcher affiliates have provided throughout a given year;
  2. reconciling that feedback into coherent MAA 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 MAA, we will revisit the MAA 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 MAA. NIA may therefore refuse to accept your organization's suggested edits.