Effect of Comprehensive Care Coordination on Medicaid Expenditures Compared With Usual Care Among Children and Youth With Chronic Disease: A Randomized Clinical Trial

JAMA Netw Open. 2019 Oct 2;2(10):e1912604. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.12604.


Importance: Medicaid spending on children and young adults with chronic disease could be decreased through care coordination programs by reducing unnecessary hospital and emergency care.

Objective: To assess whether a comprehensive care coordination program reduces Medicaid expenditures by decreasing hospital and emergency department (ED) utilization.

Design, setting, and participants: This randomized clinical trial included 6259 children and young adults with chronic disease who received public insurance through Illinois Medicaid. In April 2016, eligible youth were randomized to receive comprehensive care coordination through the Coordinated Healthcare for Complex Kids (CHECK) program (n = 3126) or usual care (n = 3119) to measure the effect of the CHECK program on Medicaid expenditures and health care utilization using a difference-in-differences (DID) approach. Data were collected from May 1, 2014, to April 30, 2017, and analyzed in May 2018.

Interventions: Care coordination, mental health care, education, and social support were provided to CHECK participants and their family members. Services were tailored based on family and participant need.

Main outcomes and measures: Mean annual Medicaid expenditures, mean annual health care utilization by category (ED and inpatient), and chronic disease type and risk level.

Results: A total of 6259 participants (mean [SD] age, 11.3 [6.4] years; 2918 [46.6%] female; 2594 [41.4%] with medium and high risk) were randomized. Following the exclusion of 14 outliers, 6245 participants were analyzed. The mean (SD) annual Medicaid expenditure before the intervention was $1633 ($4006) for the intervention group and $1703 ($4466) for the usual care group, which decreased to a mean (SD) of $1341 ($3004) and $1413 ($3785), respectively, after the intervention (DID, -$1; 95% CI, -$199 to $196; P = .99). The mean (SD) inpatient utilization before the intervention was 63.0 (344.4) per 1000 person-years (PYs) for the intervention group and 69.3 (370.9) per 1000 PYs for the usual care group, which decreased to 43.5 (297.2) per 1000 PYs and 47.8 (304.9) per 1000 PYs, respectively, after the intervention (DID, 2.0; 95% CI, -17.9 to 21.8; P = .85). Among participants with asthma, those in the intervention group had a greater mean (SD) decrease in ED utilization compared with usual care, but the difference was not significant (-225.9 [65.3] vs -104.5 [80.0] visits per 1000 PY; DID, -121.5; 95% CI, -268.9 to 26.0; P = .11). Similarly, enrolled participants with sickle cell disease had a smaller but not significant mean (SD) increase in ED utilization compared with usual care (583.3 [839.0] vs 3761.9 [4611.2] visits per 1000 PYs; DID, -3178.6; 95% CI, -10 724.3 to 4367.2; P = .41).

Conclusions and relevance: Overall Medicaid expenditures and health care utilization (hospital and ED) decreased similarly for both CHECK participants and the usual care group.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT04057521.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease / economics*
  • Comprehensive Health Care / economics*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / economics*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Expenditures / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitalization / economics*
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Illinois
  • Male
  • Medicaid / economics*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • United States

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT04057521