Dual eligibles account for 40% of Medicaid spending, study says

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Medicaid and Medicare beneficiaries, also known as dual eligibles, comprise 14% of the Medicaid population but they account for 40% of all Medicaid spending on healthcare services, according to a recent analysis.

These low-income and frail beneficiaries make up about 70% of the nursing home population. They number 7.5 million nationwide, according to the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, which released the study entitled, "Dual Eligibles: Medicaid's Role for Low-Income Beneficiaries."

The focus has been intense on this population lately because of federal and state efforts to trim Medicaid spending. Also, the prescription drug benefit, which begins in January, will take over the prescription coverage of Medicaid recipients. States are expected to pay "clawback" payments to the federal government, in large part to compensate the federal government for paying the drug costs for this group of people.

In 2003, the average Medicaid spending per dual eligible nationwide was $14,114. States with the highest expenditures on dual eligibles are California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas, according to researchers.

The study is available on the Web at: http://www.kff.org/kcmu.