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Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Hospital-Based Care Among Dual Eligibles Who Use Health Centers.

Wright B, Akiyama J, Potter AJ, Sabik LM, Stehlin GG, Trivedi AN, Wolinsky FD. Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Hospital-Based Care Among Dual Eligibles Who Use Health Centers. Health equity. 2023 Jan 13; 7(1):9-18.

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INTRODUCTION: Health center use may reduce hospital-based care among Medicare-Medicaid dual eligibles, but racial and ethnic disparities in this population have not been widely studied. We examined the extent of racial and ethnic disparities in hospital-based care among duals using health centers and the degree to which disparities occur within or between health centers. METHODS: We used 2012-2018 Medicare claims and health center data to model emergency department (ED) visits, observation stays, hospitalizations, and 30-day unplanned returns as a function of race and ethnicity among dual eligibles using health centers. RESULTS: In rural and urban counties, age-eligible Black individuals had more ED visits (7.9 [4.0, 11.7] and 13.7 [10.0, 17.4] per 100 person-years) and were more likely to experience an unplanned return (1.4 [0.4, 2.4] and 1 [0.4, 1.6] percentage points [pp]) than White individuals, but were less likely to be hospitalized (-3.3 [-3.9, -2.8] and -1.2 [-1.6, -0.9] pp). In urban counties, age-eligible Black individuals were 1.2 [0.9, 1.5] pp more likely than White individuals to have observation stays. Other racial and ethnic groups used the same or less hospital-based care than White individuals. Including state and health center fixed effects eliminated Black versus White disparities in all outcomes, except hospitalization. Results were similar among disability-eligible duals. CONCLUSION: Racial and ethnic disparities in hospital-based care among dual eligibles are less common within than between health centers. If health centers are to play a more central role in eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities, these differences across health centers must be understood and addressed.

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