More focused treatment of common illnesses among dually eligible Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries could cut costs and lower hospital readmissions, researchers found.

In analyzing data from 958,837 hospitalizations of residents of Medicare and Medicaid-covered nursing facilities and Medicaid home- and community-based services waiver programs in 2005, investigators found that 39% of admissions might have been avoided with more effective care.

Conditions including pneumonia, congestive heart failure, urinary tract infection, dehydration and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma were to blame for three-quarters of these admissions, researchers noted.

Interventions that improve long-term care settings and expand home and community-based service programs, “will require additional investments by state Medicaid programs to yield savings or Medicare policies that provide an incentive to reduce hospitalizations,” Edith Walsh, Ph.D., lead author of the study, said.

The study was published in the May issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.