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Benzodiazepine Prescribing from VA and Medicare to Dually Enrolled Older Veterans: A Retrospective Cohort Study.

Lei L, Strominger J, Wiechers IR, Kim HM, Blow FC, Bohnert ASB, Min L, Krein SL, Maust DT. Benzodiazepine Prescribing from VA and Medicare to Dually Enrolled Older Veterans: A Retrospective Cohort Study. Journal of general internal medicine. 2021 Dec 1; 36(12):3689-3696.

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BACKGROUND: There has been a reduction in BZD prescribing in the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system since 2013. It is unknown whether the decline in VA-dispensed BZDs has been offset by Medicare Part D prescriptions. OBJECTIVES: To examine (1) whether, accounting for Part D, declines in BZD prescribing to older Veterans remain; (2) patient characteristics associated with obtaining BZDs outside VA and facility variation in BZD source (VA only, VA and Part D, Part D only). DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study with mixed effects multinomial logistic model examining characteristics associated with BZD source. PATIENTS: A total of 1,746,278 Veterans aged = 65 enrolled in VA and Part D, 2013-2017. MAIN MEASURES: BZD prescription prevalence and source. KEY RESULTS: From January 2013 to June 2017, the quarterly prevalence of older Veterans with Part D filling BZD prescriptions through the VA declined from 5.2 to 3.1% (p < 0.001) or, accounting for Part D, from 10.0 to 7.7% (p < 0.001). Among those prescribed BZDs between July 2016 and June 2017, 37.0%, 10.2%, and 52.8% received prescriptions from VA only, both VA and Part D, or Part D only, respectively. Older age was associated with higher odds of obtaining BZDs through Part D (e.g., compared to those 65-74, Veterans = 85 had adjusted odds ratio [AOR] for Part D vs. VA only of 1.8 [95% highest posterior density interval (HPDI), 1.69, 1.86]). Veterans with substance use disorders accounted for few BZD prescriptions from any source but were associated with higher odds of prescriptions through Part D (e.g., alcohol use disorder AOR for Part D vs. VA alone: 1.9 [95% HPDI, 1.63, 2.11]) CONCLUSIONS: The decline in BZD use by older Veterans with Part D coverage remained after accounting for Part D, but the majority of BZD prescriptions came from Medicare. Further reducing BZD prescribing to older Veterans should consider prescriptions from community sources.

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