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States meld Medicare and Medicaid

(Stateline) They are a diverse group of low-income people who are disabled or elderly. Many have multiple chronic illnesses, or are battling depression or substance abuse. Most will need long-term care at some point in their lives.
In the nearly 50 years since Medicaid and Medicare were enacted, the two health care programs – one for the poor and the other for the elderly and disabled – have remained separate, with different rules, duplicative benefits and conflicting financial incentives. The result has been wasted money and disjointed care for more than 10 million "dual eligibles," the Americans who qualify for both programs.
Massachusetts, which provided the model for the Affordable Care Act, is the first state to take advantage of an Affordable Care Act initiative designed to give dual eligibles better care at a lower cost… Now, instead of carrying separate cards for Medicare and Medicaid, dual eligibles in Massachusetts who are enrolled in the state's One Care program will get a single health plan and a case manager to coordinate their care…
The stakes are high: As a group, dual eligibles comprise 15% of all Medicaid enrollees but account for nearly 40% of all costs, or about $109.9 billion in 2009, according to the most recent federal statistics. For Medicare, they represent 20% of all enrollees and more than 30% of costs, or $162.1 billion in 2009.
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