Healthcare reform can improve care and reduce costs for 'dual-eligibles'

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Implementation of the healthcare reform bill, or the Affordable Care Act, could improve the quality of care and reduce costs for “dual-eligibles,” according to findings of a new report from the Center for American Progress.

Dual-eligibles are commonly found in long-term care facilities. They are individuals who are eligible for medical care coverage through both the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

They are among society's sickest and the poorest individuals, according to the report, making them the most expensive patients to cover. To lower costs associated with dual-eligibles, the Affordable Care Act sets up two agencies to help coordinate care. One is the Center of Medicare and Medicaid Innovation and the other is the new Federal Coordinated Health Care Office. Together, these offices can experiment with ways to make funding more efficient.

One such experiment includes having the states handle Medicare, rather than allowing the federal government to decide how funds are spent. Under this plan, participation would be voluntary. States also would be responsible for assessing care outcomes, such as those related to rehospitalizations, emergency room use and evidence of adverse drug reactions. States also would be required to gather input from beneficiaries and their families.