September 21,2011

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Baucus Seeks Better Care for Patients Enrolled in Both Medicare, Medicaid, Reduced Costs for Taxpayers

Finance Chair Seeks Greater Efficiency, Cost Savings, Better Care for Vulnerable Patients

Washington, DCSenate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) called today for continued progress improving care for patients enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid and reducing costs for taxpayers.  At a committee hearing, Baucus conducted oversight of the new Medicare-Medicaid Coordination Office, an office he helped create in the Affordable Care Act to enhance coordination between Medicare and Medicaid.  Baucus asked about the progress being made to eliminate regulatory conflicts between the two programs, simplify access to care and fill gaps in treatments and services.

“Patients enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid are some of the most vulnerable in our health care system and often require expensive care,” said Baucus.  “We took a key first step in health reform, but we have more to do to ensure these vulnerable beneficiaries are no longer overlooked.  By continuing to improve coordination between Medicare and Medicaid, we can increase the quality of care and ensure precious health care dollars aren’t wasted.”

Around nine million people, known as dually-eligible beneficiaries, are currently enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid.  Many of these dually-eligible beneficiaries live below the poverty line, often with severe disabilities or chronic diseases, and they frequently require expensive care as a result.  Baucus discussed what more can be done to improve care for these beneficiaries, while making it more efficient and cost-effective.

Before the ACA, these patients faced considerable bureaucratic hurdles that contributed to costly and inefficient care.  Medicare and Medicaid pay for different types of services, and each state has its own rules governing Medicaid, so beneficiaries were often left trying to navigate two complex systems.  Health reform began to fix that problem by creating an office to focus exclusively on the dually-eligible population.  The Medicare-Medicaid Coordination Office is working with states, health care providers and beneficiaries to integrate the two programs and improve the services they provide.