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Keywords:

  • Health economics;
  • long-term care;
  • Medicaid

Objective

To examine outcomes associated with dual eligibility (Medicare and Medicaid) of patients who are admitted to skilled nursing facility (SNF) care and whether differences in outcomes are related to states' Medicaid long-term care policies.

Data Sources/Collection

We used national Medicare enrollment data and claims, and the Minimum Data Set for 890,922 community-residing Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries who were discharged to an SNF from a general hospital between July 2008 and June 2009.

Study Design

We estimated the effect of dual eligibility on the likelihood of 30-day rehospitalization, becoming a long-stay nursing home resident, and 180-day survival while controlling for clinical, demographic, socio-economic, residential neighborhood characteristics, and SNF-fixed effects. We estimated the differences in outcomes by dual eligibility status separately for each state and showed their relationship with state policies: the average Medicaid payment rate; presence of nursing home certificate-of-need (CON) laws; and Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS) spending.

Principal Findings

Dual-eligible patients are equally likely to experience 30-day rehospitalization, 12 percentage points more likely to become long-stay residents, and 2 percentage points more likely to survive 180 days compared to Medicare-only patients. This longer survival can be attributed to longer nursing home length of stay. While higher HCBS spending reduces the length-of-stay gap without affecting the survival gap, presence of CON laws reduces both the length-of-stay and survival gaps.

Conclusions

Dual eligibles utilize more SNF care and experience higher survival rates than comparable Medicare-only patients. Higher HCBS spending may reduce the longer SNF length of stay of dual eligibles without increasing mortality and may save money for both Medicare and Medicaid.