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Keywords:

  • Health economics;
  • skilled nursing facility care;
  • quality of care

Background

Dual eligibles, persons who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid coverage, often receive poorer quality care relative to other Medicare beneficiaries.

Objectives

To determine whether dual eligibles are discharged to lower quality post-acute skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) compared with Medicare-only beneficiaries.

Research Design

Following the random utility maximization model, we specified a discharge function using a conditional logit model and tested how this discharge rule varied by dual-eligibility status.

Subjects

A total of 692,875 Medicare fee-for-service patients (22% duals) who were discharged for Medicare paid SNF care between July 2004 and June 2005.

Measures

Medicare enrollment and the Medicaid Analytic Extract files were used to determine dual eligibility. The proportion of Medicaid patients and nursing staff characteristics provided measures of SNF quality.

Results

Duals are more likely to be discharged to SNFs with a higher share of Medicaid patients and fewer nurses. These results are robust to estimation with an alternative subsample of patients based on primary diagnoses, propensity of being dual eligible, and likelihood of remaining in the nursing home.

Conclusions

Disparities exist in access to quality SNF care for duals. Strategies to improve discharge planning processes are required to redirect patients to higher quality providers, regardless of Medicaid eligibility.