Lisa M. Lines, PhD, MPH
University ofMassachusetts Medical School
RTI International,Waltham, MA
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: The problem of potentially avoidable emergency department (ED) visits has been linked to barriers in access to high-quality, timely primary care. In Massachusetts ,about half of all ED visits were considered potentially avoidable, or primary-care sensitive (PCS), in the mid-2000s. Indeed, improving access to primary care was a prime motive for the state’s – and the nation’s – first universal coverage health insurance program in 2006. Now, the state has the highest coverage rate in the country.
We used Massachusetts All-Payer Claims Data to study characteristics of insured Massachusetts residents associated with primary-care sensitive ED use and compared such use among people under age 65 with public (Medicaid[MassHealth]) versus private insurance. We studied more than 2.2 million individuals in 2011-12; about 40% had public insurance in 2011, and the rest had private insurance. Our PCS ED measure included nonurgent, urgent but primary care treatable, and urgent but potentially avoidable ED visits.
We found that primary-care sensitive ED use was more than 4 times higher among the publicly insured (public insurees: 36.5 PCS ED visits per 100 person-years; private insurees: 9.0). After adjusting for a range of potential confounders, such as the vastly different morbidity burden of the two groups, public insurance in2011 was associated with about 150% more primary-care sensitive ED use. We also found that 70% of people with public insurance had at least 1 primary care visit, compared with 80% of those with private insurance. The public group also had fewer visits to their PCP of record, even though nearly all of them had an officially designated PCP.(more…)
Dr. Chen and colleagues in the Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences compared the financial performance between Delta hospitals and non-Delta hospitals (namely, other hospitals in the nation) from 2008 through 2014 that were covered before and after the implementation of the HRRP and HVBP programs. The financial performance was measured by using the operating margin (profitability from patient care) and total margin (profitability from patient care and non-patient care)
Before the implementation of the HRRP and HVBP programs, Delta hospitals had weaker financial performance than non-Delta hospitals but their differences were not statistically significant. After the implementation of the HRRP and HVBP programs, the gap in financial performance between Delta and non-Delta hospitals became wider and significant. The unadjusted operating margin for Delta hospitals was about -4.0% in 2011 and continuously fell to -10.4% in 2014, while the unadjusted operating margin for non-Delta hospitals was about 0.1% in 2011 and dropped to -1.5% in 2014. The unadjusted total margin for Delta hospitals significantly fell from 3.6% in 2012 to 1.1% in 2013 and reached 0.2% in 2014, while the unadjusted total margin for non-Delta hospitals remained about 5.3% from 2012 through 2014. After adjusting hospital and community characteristics, the difference in financial performance between Delta and non-Delta remained significant.(more…)