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There has been a reduction in BZD prescribing in the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system since 2013. It is unknown whether the decline in VA-dispensed BZDs has been offset by Medicare Part D prescriptions. To examine (1) whether, accounting for Part D, declines in BZD prescribing to older Veterans remain; (2) patient characteristics associated with obtaining BZDs outside VA and facility variation in BZD source (VA only, VA and Part D, Part D only). Retrospective cohort study with mixed effects multinomial logistic model examining characteristics associated with BZD source. A total of 1,746,278 Veterans aged ≥65 enrolled in VA and Part D, 2013-2017. BZD prescription prevalence and source. From January 2013 to June 2017, the quarterly prevalence of older Veterans with Part D filling BZD prescriptions through the VA declined from 5.2 to 3.1% (p<0.001) or, accounting for Part D, from 10.0 to 7.7% (p<0.001). Among those prescribed BZDs between July 2016 and June 2017, 37.0%, 10.2%, and 52.8% received prescriptions from VA only, both VA and Part D, or Part D only, respectively. Older age was associated with higher odds of obtaining BZDs through Part D (e.g., compared to those 65-74, Veterans ≥85 had adjusted odds ratio [AOR] for Part D vs. VA only of 1.8 [95% highest posterior density interval (HPDI), 1.69, 1.86]). Veterans with substance use disorders accounted for few BZD prescriptions from any source but were associated with higher odds of prescriptions through Part D (e.g., alcohol use disorder AOR for Part D vs. VA alone: 1.9 [95% HPDI, 1.63, 2.11]) CONCLUSIONS: The decline in BZD use by older Veterans with Part D coverage remained after accounting for Part D, but the majority of BZD prescriptions came from Medicare. Further reducing BZD prescribing to older Veterans should consider prescriptions from community sources. © 2021. This is a U.S. government work and not under copyright protection in the U.S.; foreign copyright protection may apply.


Lianlian Lei, Julie Strominger, Ilse R Wiechers, H Myra Kim, Frederic C Blow, Amy S B Bohnert, Lillian Min, Sarah L Krein, Donovan T Maust. Benzodiazepine Prescribing from VA and Medicare to Dually Enrolled Older Veterans: A Retrospective Cohort Study. Journal of general internal medicine. 2021 Dec;36(12):3689-3696

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PMID: 34047924

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