Association of Medicaid Expansion With Emergency Department Visits by Medical Urgency. | Academic Article individual record

Importance: Relatively little is known about the association of the Medicaid eligibility expansion under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act with emergency department (ED) visits categorized by medical urgency. Objective: To estimate the association between state Medicaid expansions and ED visits by the urgency of presenting conditions. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cross-sectional study used the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project State Emergency Department Databases from January 2011 to December 2017 for 2 states that expanded Medicaid in 2014 (New York and Massachusetts) and 2 states that did not (Florida and Georgia). Difference-in-differences regression models were used to estimate the changes in ED visits overall and further stratified by the urgency of the conditions using an updated version of the New York University ED algorithm between the states that expanded Medicaid and those that did not, before and after the expansion. Data were analyzed between June 7 and December 12, 2021. Exposure: State-level Medicaid eligibility expansion. Main Outcomes and Measures: Emergency department visits per 1000 population overall and stratified by medical urgency of the conditions. Results: In total, 80.6 million ED visits by 26.0 million individuals were analyzed. Emergency department visits were concentrated among women (59.3%), non-Hispanic Black individuals (28.3%), non-Hispanic White individuals (47.8%), and those aged 18 to 34 years (47.5%) and 35 to 44 years (20.4%). The rates of ED visits increased by a mean of 2.4 visits in nonexpansion states and decreased by a mean of 2.2 visits in expansion states after 2014, resulting in a significant regression-adjusted decrease of 4.7 visits per 1000 population (95% CI, -7.7 to -1.5; P=.003) in expansion states. Most of this decrease was associated with decreases in ED visits by conditions classified as not emergent (-1.5 visits; 95% CI, -2.4 to -0.7; P<.001), primary care treatable (-1.1 visits; 95% CI, -1.6 to -0.5; P<.001), and potentially preventable (-0.3 visits; 95% CI, -0.5 to -0.1; P=.02). No significant changes were observed for ED visits related to injuries and conditions classified as not preventable (-1.4; 95% CI, -3.1 to 0.3; P=.10), as well as for substance use and mental health disorders (0.0; 95% CI, -0.2 to 0.2; P=.94). Conclusions and Relevance: The findings of this study suggest that Medicaid expansion was associated with decreases in ED visits, for which decreases in ED visits for less medically emergent ED conditions may have been a factor.

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JAMA Netw Open

author list (cited authors)
Giannouchos, T. V., Ukert, B., & Andrews, C.
publication date
  • Eligibility Determination
  • Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Medicaid
  • United States
  • Female
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
PubMed ID
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
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