Recent Trends and the Impact of the Affordable Care Act on Emergency Department Visits and Hospitalizations for Gastrointestinal, Pancreatic, and Liver Diseases. Journal of clinical gastroenterology Barakat, M. T., Mithal, A., Huang, R. J., Sehgal, A., Sehgal, A., Singh, G., Banerjee, S. 2018


BACKGROUND: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) with Medicaid expansion implemented in 2014, extended health insurance to >20-million previously uninsured individuals. However, it is unclear whether enhanced primary care access with Medicaid expansion decreased emergency department (ED) visits and hospitalizations for gastrointestinal (GI)/pancreatic/liver diseases.METHODS: We evaluated trends in GI/pancreatic/liver diagnosis-specific ED/hospital utilization over a 5-year period leading up to Medicaid expansion and a year following expansion, in California (a state that implemented Medicaid expansion) and compare these with Florida (a state that did not).RESULTS: From 2009 to 2013, GI/pancreatic/liver disease ED visits increased by 15.0% in California and 20.2% in Florida and hospitalizations for these conditions decreased by 2.6% in California and increased by 7.9% in Florida. Following Medicaid expansion, a shift from self-pay/uninsured to Medicaid insurance was seen California; in addition, a new decrease in ED visits for nausea/vomiting and GI infections, was evident, without associated change in overall ED/hospital utilization trends. Total hospitalization charges for abdominal pain, nausea/vomiting, constipation, and GI infection diagnoses decreased in California following Medicaid expansion, but increased over the same time-period in Florida.CONCLUSIONS: We observed a striking payer shift for GI/pancreatic/liver disease ED visits/hospitalizations after Medicaid expansion in California, indicating a shift in the reimbursement burden in self-pay/uninsured patients, from patients and hospitals to the government. ED visits and hospitalization charges decreased for some primary care-treatable GI diagnoses in California, but not for Florida, suggesting a trend toward lower cost of gastroenterology care, perhaps because of decreased hospital utilization for conditions amenable to outpatient management.

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