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Fabius CD, Thomas KS. Examining Black-White Disparities Among Medicare Beneficiaries in Assisted Living Settings in 2014. Journal of The American Medical Directors Association. 2019 Jun 1; 20(6):703-709.
OBJECTIVE: Assisted living (AL) provides housing and personal care to residents who need assistance with daily activities. Few studies have examined black-white disparities in larger (25 + beds) ALs; therefore, little is known about black residents, their prior residential settings, and how they compare to whites in AL. We examined racial differences among a national cohort of AL residents and how the racial variation among AL Medicare Fee-For-Service (FFS) beneficiaries compared to differences among community-dwelling and nursing home cohorts. STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study. PARTICIPANTS: We included (1) a prevalence sample of 442,018 white and black Medicare beneficiaries residing in large AL settings, (2) an incidence sample of new residents (n = 94,741), and (3) 10% random samples of Medicare FFS community-dwelling and nursing home beneficiaries in 2014. MEASURES: The Medicare Master Summary Beneficiary File was used to identify AL residents and provided demographic, entitlement, chronic condition, and health care utilization information. We used the American Community Survey and prior ZIP code tabulation areas of residents to examine differences in prior neighborhoods. Medicare claims and the Minimum Data Set yielded samples of Medicare FFS community-dwelling older adults and nursing home residents. RESULTS: Blacks were disproportionately represented in AL, younger, more likely to be Medicaid eligible, had higher levels of acuity, and more often lived in ALs with fewer whites and more duals. New black residents entered AL with higher rates of acute care hospitalizations and skilled nursing facility utilization. Across the 3 cohorts, blacks had higher rates of dual-eligibility. CONCLUSIONS: Black-white differences observed among AL residents indicate a need for future work to examine how disparities manifest in differences in care received and residents' outcomes, as well as the pathways to AL. More research is needed to understand the implications of inequities in AL as they relate to quality and experiences of residents.