Racial Disparities in Medicaid Asthma Hospitalizations

Pediatrics. 2017 Jan;139(1):e20161221. doi: 10.1542/peds.2016-1221.


Background and objectives: Black children with asthma comprise one-third of all asthma patients in Medicaid. With increasing Medicaid coverage, it has become especially important to monitor Medicaid for differences in hospital practice and patient outcomes by race.

Methods: A multivariate matched cohort design, studying 11 079 matched pairs of children in Medicaid (black versus white matched pairs from inside the same state) admitted for asthma between January 1, 2009 and November 30, 2010 in 33 states contributing adequate Medicaid Analytic eXtract claims.

Results: Ten-day revisit rates were 3.8% in black patients versus 4.2% in white patients (P = .12); 30-day revisit and readmission rates were also not significantly different by race (10.5% in black patients versus 10.8% in white patients; P = .49). Length of stay (LOS) was also similar; both groups had a median stay of 2.0 days, with a slightly lower percentage of black patients exceeding their own state's median LOS (30.2% in black patients versus 31.8% in white patients; P = .01). The mean paired difference in LOS was 0.00 days (95% confidence interval, -0.08 to 0.08). However, ICU use was higher in black patients than white patients (22.2% versus 17.5%; P < .001). After adjusting for multiple testing, only 4 states were found to differ significantly, but only in ICU use, where blacks had higher rates of use.

Conclusions: For closely matched black and white patients, racial disparities concerning asthma admission outcomes and style of practice are small and generally nonsignificant, except for ICU use, where we observed higher rates in black patients.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • African Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data*
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Asthma / ethnology*
  • Asthma / therapy*
  • Child
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data*
  • Healthcare Disparities / ethnology*
  • Healthcare Disparities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric / statistics & numerical data
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Matched-Pair Analysis
  • Medicaid / statistics & numerical data*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Racism / ethnology*
  • Racism / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States
  • Utilization Review / statistics & numerical data