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VOLUME 42 | NUMBER 4 | AUGUST 2007


Hospitalization of Nursing Home Residents: The Effects of States' Medicaid Payment and Bed-Hold Policies

Objective. Hospitalizations of nursing home residents are costly and expose residents to iatrogenic disease and social and psychological harm. Economic constraints imposed by payers of care, predominantly Medicaid policies, are hypothesized to impact hospitalizations.

Data Sources/Study Setting. Federally mandated resident assessments were merged with Medicare claims and eligibility files to determine hospitalizations and death within 150 days of baseline assessment. Nursing home and market characteristics were obtained from the Online Survey Certification and Reporting, and the Area Resource File, respectively. States' average daily Medicaid nursing home payments and bed-hold policies were obtained independently.

Study Design. Prospective cohort study of 570,614 older (=65-year-old), non-MCO (Medicare Managed Care), long-stay (=90 days) residents in 8,997 urban, freestanding nursing homes assessed between April and June 2000, using multilevel models to test the impact of state policies on hospitalizations controlling for resident, nursing home, and market characteristics.

Principal Findings. Overall, 99,379 (17.4 percent) residents were hospitalized with rates varying from 8.4 percent in Utah to 24.9 percent in Louisiana. Higher Medicaid per diem was associated with lower odds of hospitalizations (5 percent lower for each $10 above average $103.5, confidence intervals [CI] 0.91–0.99). Hospitalization odds were higher by 36 percent in states with bed-hold policies (CI: 1.12–1.63).

Conclusions. State Medicaid bed-hold policy and per-diem payment have important implications for nursing home hospitalizations, which are predominantly financed by Medicare. This study emphasizes the importance of properly aligning state Medicaid and federal Medicare policies in regards to the subsidy of acute, maintenance, and preventive care in the nursing home setting.

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