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Medicaid External Quality Review

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EQRO StatesHealth Services Advisory Group (HSAG) is the largest External Quality Review Organization (EQRO) in the nation and provides quality review services for states that operate Medicaid managed care programs and fee-for-service programs. As an EQRO, HSAG evaluates managed care organizations (MCOs), prepaid inpatient health plans (PIHPs), prepaid ambulatory health plans (PAHPs), and primary care case management (PCCM) programs as required by the code of federal regulations 42 CFR Part 438, Subpart E, and aggregates information on the timeliness, access, and quality of healthcare services furnished to Medicaid enrollees. HSAG is officially designated as an EQRO in 19 states. HSAG's quality review services affect more than 44 million Medicaid recipients, or approximately 49 percent of the nation's Medicaid population.

The EQR process currently consists of four mandatory activities and six optional activities, in addition to producing an annual EQR technical report and providing technical assistance, as needed. Each of the mandatory and optional activities has a corresponding EQR protocol, which HSAG follows when performing each EQR activity.

Mandatory EQR Activities

Optional EQR Activities

HSAG customizes quality review services based on each state's needs and can provide quality review technical assistance to states that do not operate managed care programs but wish to monitor the healthcare delivery and health outcomes of the population served in the Medicaid program. HSAG also provides quality improvement development and administration to enable states to monitor and achieve their strategic quality-related goals.

Features unique to HSAG:

  • With our extensive experience, HSAG is the only EQRO that is also a National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS®) Certified Survey Vendor and NCQA Licensed Organization with the capability of conducting certified HEDIS®1 Compliance Audits™2.
  • HSAG staffs its contracts with highly skilled and credentialed professionals, such as Certified HEDIS Compliance Auditors (CHCAs), Certified Professionals in Healthcare Quality (CPHQs), registered nurses, Master's-prepared social workers, statisticians, biostatisticians, and epidemiologists.
  • HSAG has extensive experience with Medicaid managed care programs being implemented for the first time in their state (Hawaii, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, Arizona, California, Iowa, and Colorado).
  • HSAG has the capacity to compare a large volume of data and create customized reports that assist states in monitoring their Medicaid programs.
  • HSAG has proven success in developing and implementing innovative electronic tools and websites for states to use. In some states, HSAG has become an extension of the state's data staff members, providing accurate and timely training, support, and helpdesk service for all hours of business.
  • HSAG develops a customized EQR strategy for each state that is designed to achieve the state's specific quality goals and objectives. This customized approach has proven effective in helping HSAG's customers achieve higher quality services in their managed care programs.

For more information about HSAG's external quality review services, please contact Gretchen Thompson, Chief Operating Officer, State Services, at

1HEDIS® is a registered trademark of the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).
2NCQA HEDIS® Compliance Audit™ is a trademark of the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).