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AHRQ is pleased to announce that it has reached agreement with the Census Bureau to make AHRQ’s restricted MEPS data available to qualified researchers through the Census Research Data Center (RDC) network. The RDC network currently consists of nine regional data centers in New York, North Carolina, Michigan, Illinois, Maryland, California, and Massachusetts. For more information on the Census Bureau Research Data Centers, go to www.ces.census.gov.

The restricted MEPS data that will be made available at the Census RDCs through this agreement are:
a. Household Component-Insurance Component linked file (1996–1999, 2001)
b. Nursing Home Component (1996)
c. Medical Provider Component (except directly identifiable data)
d. Two-Year, Two-Panel Files
e. Area Resource File (county-level data that can be linked to MEPS-HC)
f. MEPS Link Files to NHIS

Important note: The MEPS Insurance Component List sample files, already available at the Census RDCs, are Census Bureau and Internal Revenue Service restricted data (not AHRQ restricted). They are not part of this agreement and are still subject to the standard Census RDC proposal process. Contact AHRQ at CFACTDC@AHRQ.HHS.GOV for details on additional non-public MEPS data available for RDC use.

For researchers wanting to use AHRQ restricted data at one of the Census RDCs, the first step is to go through the standard AHRQ Data Center applications process. For information on that process, see the MEPS Web site at http://www.meps.ahrq.gov/mepsweb/data_stats/onsite_datacenter.jsp. AHRQ will handle all proposal review and disclosure avoidance review for RDC projects using AHRQ data.

Researchers wanting to use a Census Bureau RDC location for their project will then be subject to the Census RDC proposal process, but will not have to meet Census Bureau standards, just AHRQ standards. Census will start accepting proposals using AHRQ restricted data beginning July 1, 2007. The standard AHRQ Data Center fee will be waived but standard Census RDC access charges, if any, will apply.

All researchers wanting to use a Census Bureau RDC will need to become Special Sworn Status (SSS) employees of the Census Bureau—in case of incidental access to confidential Census Bureau or Internal Revenue Service data while in an RDC—and will also be required to become National Center for Health Statistics agents (as AHRQ data is based on the National Health Interview Survey) and to take the appropriate training for both roles. Researchers currently using the Rockville, Maryland AHRQ Data Center will be able to transfer their research to a Census RDC site once they become SSS employees. Contact the appropriate Census RDC administrator for more information on the SSS process.

Any proposals to use confidential data from both the Census Bureau and the AHRQ Data Center will be subject to the Census Bureau’s proposal process and standards and will also be reviewed by AHRQ, and by the Internal Revenue Service if tax data are involved.