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Psychiatr Serv. 2011 Aug;62(8):871-7. doi: 10.1176/

Medicaid cutbacks and state psychiatric hospitalization of patients with schizophrenia.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Oregon Health and Science University, Mail Code OP-02, Portland, OR 97239, USA.



Given financial difficulties precipitated by the flagging national economy, state policy makers are interested in the impact of Medicaid cutbacks on individuals with schizophrenia. Starting in 2003, the Oregon legislature eliminated all Medicaid coverage for large numbers of people, including many with schizophrenia. The objective of this project was to examine state psychiatric hospital utilization among persons with schizophrenia who maintained or lost Medicaid coverage.


This longitudinal cohort study examined Oregon schizophrenia patients who had used Medicaid mental health services before the state's massive Medicaid reductions. Data were obtained from the state mental health, Medicaid, and vital statistics agencies. The outcome measures were involuntary psychiatric admissions to general hospitals and to state psychiatric hospitals, respectively. There were three cohorts, which comprised those who lost Medicaid coverage in calendar year 2003 (N=435), those who lost Medicaid coverage in 2004 (N=187), and those who maintained Medicaid coverage throughout study years 2002-2004 (N=3,427).


Cohort members were on average 43 years old, and the sample was 42% female and 88% white. Analyses controlling for age, gender, race-ethnicity, Medicaid eligibility, and Medicare coverage showed that persons who maintained Medicaid coverage had little change in state psychiatric hospitalization, whereas utilization increased markedly over time for those who lost Medicaid coverage (p<.003). There were few differences in utilization of general hospital psychiatric units. Loss of Medicaid coverage generally preceded hospitalization.


State policies designed to decrease Medicaid enrollment may have led to increased use of state psychiatric hospitals by former Medicaid enrollees with schizophrenia.

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