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Federally Qualified Health Center Use Among Dual Eligibles Rates Of Hospitalizations And Emergency Department Visits

Author: Brad Wright, Andrew J. Potter, Amal Trivedi
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People who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, known as “dual eligibles,” disproportionately are members of racial or ethnic minority groups. They face barriers accessing primary care, which in turn increase the risk of potentially preventable hospitalizations and emergency department (ED) visits for ambulatory care–sensitive conditions. Federally qualified health centers provide services known to address barriers to primary care. We analyzed 2008–10 Medicare data for elderly and nonelderly disabled dual eligibles residing in Primary Care Service Areas with nearby federally qualified health centers. Among our findings: There were fewer hospitalizations for ambulatory care–sensitive conditions among blacks and Hispanics who used these health centers than among their counterparts who did not use them (16 percent and 13 percent fewer, respectively). Use of the health centers was also associated with 3 percent and 12 percent fewer hospitalizations for ambulatory care–sensitive conditions among nonelderly disabled blacks and Hispanics, respectively. These findings suggest that federally qualified health centers can reduce disparities in preventable hospitalizations for some dual eligibles. However, further efforts are needed to reduce preventable ED visits among dual eligibles receiving care in the health centers.

People who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, known as “dual eligibles,” disproportionately are members of racial or ethnic minority groups. They face barriers accessing primary care, which in turn increase the risk of potentially preventable hospitalizations and emergency department (ED) visits for ambulatory care–sensitive conditions. Federally qualified health centers provide services known to address barriers to primary care. We analyzed 2008–10 Medicare data for elderly and nonelderly disabled dual eligibles residing in Primary Care Service Areas with nearby federally qualified health centers. Among our findings: There were fewer hospitalizations for ambulatory care–sensitive conditions among blacks and Hispanics who used these health centers than among their counterparts who did not use them (16 percent and 13 percent fewer, respectively). Use of the health centers was also associated with 3 percent and 12 percent fewer hospitalizations for ambulatory care–sensitive conditions among nonelderly disabled blacks and Hispanics, respectively. These findings suggest that federally qualified health centers can reduce disparities in preventable hospitalizations for some dual eligibles. However, further efforts are needed to reduce preventable ED visits among dual eligibles receiving care in the health centers.

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