SAN FRANCISCO – Despite implementation of the Model for End Stage Liver Disease score to prioritize liver transplantation, .
“It can be difficult for patients with Medicaid to access liver transplantation,” lead study author Ann Robinson, MD, said in an interview at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. “These patients may be living in underserved areas with limited resources.”
In an effort to evaluate insurance-specific disparities in severity of liver disease at the time of liver transplantation wait-list registration and at the time of liver transplantation, Dr. Robinson and her colleagues retrospectively evaluated the 2005-2016/Organ Procurement and Transplant Network liver transplant . They used multivariate linear regression models to make insurance-specific comparisons of MELD scores at wait-list registration and at liver transplantation, which included adjustments for age, sex, year, etiology of liver disease, body mass index, ascites, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), and hepatic encephalopathy.
Dr. Robinson, who is a third-year internal medicine resident at Highland Hospital, Oakland, Calif., reported findings from 88,542 liver transplantation wait-list registrants with a mean age of 56 years. Their overall mean MELD score was 17.4 at wait-list registration and 22.6 at time of liver transplantation. The greatest mean MELD score at the time of wait-list registration was observed in Medicaid patients (18.4, compared with 17.2 among Veterans Affairs patients, 17 among Medicare patients, and 17 among privately/commercially insured patients; P less than .01). Meanwhile, the greatest mean MELD score at the time of liver transplantation was observed in Medicaid patients (23.5, compared with 21.4 among VA patients, 21.3 among privately/commercially insured patients, and 21.1 among Medicare patients; P less than .01).
Multivariate regression analysis revealed that, among patients without hepatocellular carcinoma, those with coverage other than private or commercial insurance had significantly higher MELD scores at wait-list registration (P less than .01). Specifically, the odds ratio was highest for VA patients (odds ratio, 2.59), followed by those covered by Medicaid (OR, 2.45), and Medicare (OR, 1.86). Similar trends were observed in hepatocellular carcinoma patients, with the highest biological MELD score at wait-list seen in those covered by Medicaid.
On regression analysis, while Medicaid patients with hepatocellular carcinoma had significantly higher biological MELD scores at time of liver transplantation, compared with those with private/commercial insurance (Medicaid OR, 2.06; P less than .05), no differences were observed among patients without hepatocellular carcinoma.
Dr. Robinson reported having no financial disclosures.
Source: Hepatology 2018 Oct 1;68[S1],.