Utilization of Left Ventricular Assist Devices in Vulnerable Adults Across Medicaid Expansion

Afshin Ehsan, Alexander Zeymo, J. McDermott, Nawar M. Shara, Frank W. Sellke, R. Yousefzai, Waddah B. Al-Refaie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Continuous-flow left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implantation is a payor sensitive procedure influenced by preoperative comorbidities and social factors. Whether expansion in insurance coverage will further influence device utilization is unknown. This study sought to assess the effects of Medicaid expansion on vulnerable populations (namely racial–ethnic minorities and those with low-income status) undergoing continuous-flow LVAD implantation after the enactment of the 2014 Affordable Care Act (ACA). Methods: Data from the 2012 to Q3 2015 State Inpatient Database were used to examine a cohort of 624 nonelderly adults (aged 18-64 y) who were given a continuous-flow LVAD in three expansion states (Kentucky, New Jersey, and Maryland) and two nonexpansion states (North Carolina and Florida). The cohort excluded patients who had a heart transplant, heart–lung transplant, or noncontinuous-flow LVAD. Poisson Interrupted Time Series was used with three-way interactions and change of slope and intercept parameters at 2014 to determine the impact of the ACA expansion on utilization of continuous-flow LVAD by race and insurance strata. Results: Poisson Interrupted Time Series models show that within expansion states, the population of Medicaid and uninsured patients saw an increase in the utilization of LVAD's immediately after ACA expansion, from 2.8 in Q4 2013 to 9.83 Q1 2014 (incidence rate ratio [IRR] 5.26, P = 0.02). Utilization eventually declined to pre-ACA levels, however, ending with 3.04 LVADs in Q3 2015 (IRR 0.84, 95% confidence interval 0.58-1.20). Models testing for racial effect showed no statistically preferential or disparate effects (immediate effect IRR 1.608, P = 0.506; marginal effect IRR 0.897, P = 0.512). Conclusions: These findings show that despite expanded insurance coverage, the utilization of continuous-flow LVADs was not increased in nonelderly racial and ethnic minorities following the ACA Medicaid expansion. Although these findings are preliminary and require further long-term evaluation, they suggest that insurance coverage alone does not play a significant role in increased utilization of continuous-flow LVAD. These findings point toward the importance of further exploring social, medical, and hospital drivers of these disparities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)503-508
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Nov 2019


  • Affordable care act
  • Cardiac surgery
  • Disparities
  • Heart failure
  • Left ventricular assist device
  • Medicaid expansion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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