Racial Disparities in Health Care Utilization at the End of Life among New Jersey Medicaid Beneficiaries with Advanced Cancer

Annie Yang, David Goldin, Jose Nova, Jyoti Malhotra, Joel C. Cantor, Jennifer Tsui

Publication Date: 06/01/2020

PURPOSE Racial and ethnic disparities in cancer care near the end of life (EOL) have been recognized, but EOL care experienced by Medicaid beneficiaries is not well understood. We assessed the prevalence of aggressive EOL care and hospice enrollment for Medicaid beneficiaries and determined whether racial and ethnic disparities exist. PATIENTS AND METHODS We identified Medicaid beneficiaries (age 21-64 years) who were diagnosed from 2011 to 2015 with stage IV breast and colorectal cancer and who died by January 2016 through a New Jersey State Cancer Registry–Medicaid claims linked data set. We measured aggressive EOL care (. 1 hospitalization, . 1 emergency department [ED] visit, any intensive care unit [ICU] admission in the last 30 days of life, and receipt of chemotherapy in the last 14 days of life) and hospice enrollment. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to determine factors associated with aggressive EOL care and hospice enrollment. RESULTS Of the 349 patients, 217 (62%) received at least one of the following measures of aggressive EOL care: . 1 hospitalization (27%), . 1 ED visit (31%), ICU admission (30%), and chemotherapy (34%). The adjusted odds of receiving any aggressive care were 1.87 times higher (95% CI, 1.08 to 3.26) for non-Hispanic (NH) Black patients compared with NH White patients. Only 39% of patients enrolled in hospice. No significant differences in hospice enrollment were observed by race or ethnicity. CONCLUSION The majority of Medicaid patients with advanced cancer received aggressive EOL care and were not enrolled in hospice. NH Black patients were more likely to receive aggressive EOL care. Further work to understand processes leading to suboptimal EOL care within Medicaid populations and among racial and ethnic minority groups is warranted…