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Long-term care service mix in the Veterans Health Administration after home care expansion.

Jacobs JC, Wagner TH, Trivedi R, Lorenz K, Van Houtven CH. Long-term care service mix in the Veterans Health Administration after home care expansion. Health services research. 2021 Dec 1; 56(6):1126-1136.

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Abstract:

OBJECTIVE: To determine whether the Veterans Health Administration's (VHA) efforts to expand access to home- and community-based services (HCBS) after the 2001 Millennium Act significantly changed Veterans' utilization of institutional, paid home, and unpaid home care relative to a non-VHA user Medicare population that was not exposed to HCBS expansion efforts. DATA SOURCES: We used linkages between the Health and Retirement Study and VHA administrative data from 1998 until 2012. STUDY DESIGN: We conducted a retrospective-matched cohort study using coarsened exact matching to ensure balance on observable characteristics for VHA users (n  = 943) and nonusers (n  = 6106). We used a difference-in-differences approach with a person fixed-effects estimator. DATA COLLECTION/EXTRACTION METHODS: Individuals were eligible for inclusion in the analysis if they were age 65 or older and indicated that they were covered by Medicare insurance in 1998. Individuals were excluded if they were covered by Medicaid insurance at baseline. Individuals were considered exposed to VHA HCBS expansion efforts if they were enrolled in the VHA and used VHA services. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Theory predicts that an increase in the public allocation of HCBS will decrease the utilization of its substitutes (e.g., institutional care and unpaid caregiving). We found that after the Millennium Act was passed, there were no observed differences between VHA users and nonusers in the probability of using institutional long-term care (0.7% points, 95% CI: -0.009, 0.022) or in receiving paid help with activities of daily living (0.06% points, 95% CI: -0.011, 0.0125). VHA users received more hours of unpaid care post-Millennium Act (1.48, 95% CI: -0.232, 3.187), though this effect was not significant once we introduced controls for mental health. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that mandating access to HCBS services does not necessarily imply that access to these services will follow suit.





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