It has been 10 years since a category five hurricane, stretching 400 miles across with sustained winds of more than 100 miles per hour, battered the state of Louisiana, displacing residents from their homes.
Following Hurricane Katrina, temporary emergency state Medicaid waivers were established to provide short-term insurance to dislocated individuals.
Dr. Troy Quast, University of South Florida College of Public Health associate professor, and his colleague conducted research analyzing the healthcare utilization and health outcomes of diabetic children displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
His research, “Diabetes Care Provided to Children Displaced by Hurricane Katrina” published in the Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness August issue, specifically examined children with diabetes enrolled in the Texas Medicaid waiver program, “TexKat.” TexKat was the largest of the federal government emergency waivers issued following Katrina.
“Emergency Medicaid waivers haven’t been used that often, and there have been very few studies of how they performed,” Quast said. “Disasters are unpredictable, but we know they are going to happen and we think it’s important to know how these waivers perform and how they can be revised to better serve people in future disasters.”
Dr. Quast compared enrollment and claims data from 2004 to 2006 of diabetic children displaced from Louisiana with those of children who lived in areas less affected by Hurricane Katrina. Quast divided the three year period into three sections: pre-Katrina, during TexKat, and post-TexKat. In each of those periods, Quast examined the frequency of four diabetes maintenance tests (glycated hemoglobin, eye exams, microalbumin test, and thyroid test) and one diabetes complication (diabetic ketoacidosis).
Results indicated that children enrolled in the waiver program did not experience a decrease in care, however, after the waiver period ended, there was a drop in care and an increase in complications.