Accessible medical diagnostic equipment in primary care: Assessing its geographic distribution for disability equity

Elsevier, Disability and Health Journal, Volume 16, April 2023
Mudrick N.R., Breslin M.L., Blackwell J., Wang X., Nielsen K.A.

Background: Height adjustable examination tables, accessible weight scales, and lifts for transferring individuals on/off examination equipment enable delivery of equitable health care to persons with mobility impairment. Because most Medicaid-covered patients must utilize a managed care network, network providers with accessible medical diagnostic equipment (MDE) at proximate locations for travel time and distance are necessary. Network density and distribution of accessible MDE has not been studied. Objective: This descriptive research examined geographic network adequacy by comparing the density of persons with mobility impairments and location of Medicaid managed care practices with accessible MDE in Los Angeles County. Methods: Medicaid managed care practices with MDE were mapped by ZIP Codes shaded to indicate the number of persons with mobility impairment. Zero-inflated negative binomial regression examined ZIP Code population characteristics as potential predictors of accessible MDE presence. Data sources were: (1) 2013–2016 primary care facility audit of Medicaid managed care network providers in LA County, aggregated by ZIP Code, and (2) LA County ZIP Code characteristics from the 2016 American Community Survey. ArcGIS was used for mapping and MPlus for the regression analysis. Results: No consistent association between the size of the mobility limited population, demographic characteristics, and presence of accessible MDE was observed or measured by regression. The observed low MDE density suggests network adequacy likely is not achieved in LA County. Conclusions: Actions by state and federal agencies are necessary to increase accessible MDE and network adequacy by enforcing existing non-discrimination law and Medicaid regulations.