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Do hospital-based emergency Medicaid programs benefit trauma centers? A mixed-methods analysis.

Knowlton LM, Logan DS, Arnow K, Hendricks WD, Gibson AB, Tran LD, Wagner TH, Morris AM. Do hospital-based emergency Medicaid programs benefit trauma centers? A mixed-methods analysis. The journal of trauma and acute care surgery. 2024 Jan 1; 96(1):44-53.

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INTRODUCTION: Hospital Presumptive Eligibility (HPE) is a temporary Medicaid insurance at hospitalization, which can offset patient costs of care, increase access to postdischarge resources, and provide a path to sustain coverage through Medicaid. Less is known about the implications of HPE programs on trauma centers (TCs). We aimed to describe the association with HPE and hospital Medicaid reimbursement and characterize incentives for HPE participation among hospitals and TCs. We hypothesized that there would be financial, operational, and mission-based incentives. METHODS: We performed a convergent mixed methods study of HPE hospitals in California (including all verified TCs). We analyzed Annual Financial Disclosure Reports from California''s Department of Health Care Access and Information (2005-2021). Our primary outcome was Medicaid net revenue. We also conducted thematic analysis of semistructured interviews with hospital stakeholders to understand incentives for HPE participation (n = 8). RESULTS: Among 367 California hospitals analyzed, 285 (77.7%) participate in HPE, 77 (21%) of which are TCs. As of early 2015, 100% of TCs had elected to enroll in HPE. There is a significant positive association between HPE participation and net Medicaid revenue. The highest Medicaid revenues are in HPE level I and level II TCs. Controlling for changes associated with the Affordable Care Act, HPE enrollment is associated with increased net patient Medicaid revenue ( b = 6.74, p < 0.001) and decreased uncompensated care costs ( b = -2.22, p < 0.05). Stakeholder interviewees'' explanatory incentives for HPE participation included reduction of hospital bad debt, improved patient satisfaction, and community benefit in access to care. CONCLUSION: Hospital Presumptive Eligibility programs not only are a promising pathway for long-term insurance coverage for trauma patients but also play a role in TC viability. Future interventions will target streamlining the HPE Medicaid enrollment process to reduce resource burden on participating hospitals and ensure ongoing patient engagement in the program. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Economic And Value Based Evaluations; Level II.

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