University of Kentucky College of Public Health researcher Dr. Teresa M. Waters is senior author of the study “Medicaid Expansion Associated With Reductions in Preventable Hospitalizations,” highlighted in the November issue of Health Affairs. Dr. Waters, professor and chair of Health Management & Policy, was joined on the study by former UK researcher Dr. Hefei Wen, now assistant professor in the Harvard Medical School & Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute. Additional authors were Dr. Kenton J. Johnston, assistant professor in the St. Louis University College of Public Health and Social Justice; and Dr. Lindsay Allen, assistant professor in the West Virginia University School of Public Health.
According to the study, hospitalizations for ambulatory care-sensitive conditions signal inadequate access to preventive and primary care, and they cost the U.S. health care system over $30 billion in avoidable hospital costs each year. Reducing potentially preventable hospitalizations has become a key health policy target for improving population health and bending the cost curve. Using the Health Care Cost and Utilization Project state inpatient databases from 36 states for 2009-15, the impact of Medicaid expansions at the state level on these hospitalizations was examined.
Researchers found that Medicaid expansions under the Affordable Care Act (were associated with meaningful reductions in preventable hospitalizations. These reductions were largely concentrated in chronic respiratory conditions, diabetes-related complications and bacterial pneumonia. These findings are consistent with prior research, which found these conditions particularly amenable to outpatient intervention.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on November 15