What can Medicaid data add to research on VA patients?

Health Care Financing and Economics, Department of Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, 150 South Huntington Avenue (152H), Boston, MA 02130, USA.
The Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development (Impact Factor: 1.43). 01/2010; 47(8):773-80. DOI: 10.1682/JRRD.2009.07.0107
Source: DOAJ


This article is the first to describe Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) patients' use of Medicaid at a national level. We obtained 1999 national VA enrollment and utilization data, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services enrollment and claims, and Medicare information from the VA Information Resource Center. The research team created files for program characteristics and described the VA-Medicaid dually enrolled population, healthcare utilization, and costs. In 1999, VA-Medicaid dual enrollees comprised 10.2% of VA's annual patient load (350,000/3,450,000); 304,000 were veterans. These veterans differed marginally from VA's veteran patients, being on average half a year younger and having 1% fewer males. Dual enrollees with mental health diagnoses and care were almost three times as numerous as long-term care patients; these two groups accounted for ~60% of dual enrollees. Dual enrollees disproportionately included housebound veterans and veterans needing aid and assistance. Half the dual enrollees had 12 months of Medicaid eligibility, and total Federal expenditures per patient not in managed care programs averaged >$18,000 (median >$6,000). Dually enrolled women veterans cost ~55% less than men. Medicaid benefits complement VA and are more accessible in many states. VA researchers need to consider including Medicaid utilization and costs in their studies if they target populations or programs related to long-term care or mental disorders.

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    ABSTRACT: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides nationwide access, lifetime coverage, and an integrated care structure to its enrollees. Those key aspects of VA healthcare-together with data contained in VA's electronic information systems supporting over eight million veterans-provide unique opportunities to study processes, outcomes, and costs of care. Recently, for example, VA data have been used to study outcomes associated with acute postoperative inpatient rehabilitation and care in specialized rehabilitation bed units after lower-limb amputation [1-2], medication adherence and relapse among patients discharged from a VA posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatment program [3], the provision and costs of assistive technology devices to veterans after stroke [4], and use of mental health services by veterans disabled by auditory disorders [5].
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