CMS is pleased to announce the release of the Preliminary 2021 Medicare Advantage (MA, also known as Part C) Encounter Research Identifiable Files (RIFs). Beginning with 2019 data, CMS releases a “Preliminary” version of the Medicare Advantage Encounter RIFs for each service year to give researchers earlier access to Encounter data in the research file format. The Preliminary 2021 RIF data is not fully mature because Medicare Advantage Organizations (MAOs) are still submitting encounter records for that service year to CMS, so users and researchers should be aware of this when planning their analytics. CMS will release an updated, “final” version of the 2021 MA Encounter RIFs after the final date for 2021 MAO encounter record submissions to CMS.
The MA Encounter files include data for six (6) settings: Inpatient (IP), Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF), Home Health (HH), Institutional Outpatient (OP), Carrier and Durable Medical Equipment (DME). An MA Encounter Data User Guide, providing guidance on the use of the files, is available.