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Better Integration Needed to Care for Nation’s Most Medically Complex Patients

Some of the most vulnerable patients are threatened by fragmented care systems and the challenge of navigating two different programs. Better integration is needed to streamline care and improve outcomes, according to two white papers released by Bipartisan Policy Center.

Individuals who qualify for Medicare and Medicaid often face the overwhelming challenge of having to navigate two different programs to get the healthcare they need — fragmentation that can drive up health care spending and lead to poor outcomes.

While policymakers have made strides to better integrate care for the so-called dual-eligible beneficiaries, more work needs to be done, especially as the coronavirus pandemic takes aim at complex care patients, who tend to be elderly, disabled, or have multiple chronic conditions and face some of the greatest risks in developing serious and even deadly complications from the virus.

Two new white papers released today by the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Washington, D.C.–based think tank, outline proposals and policy options to better integrate and streamline care for dual-eligible individuals.

“Significant barriers to integration continue to exist,” Katherine Hayes, director of BPC health policy said in a statement. “For most individuals navigating two separate programs would be daunting, but for dual-eligible individuals and their families, it can be overwhelming, especially as they manage chronic medical conditions and other cognitive or physical limitations.”

Dual-eligible individuals faced significant disadvantages and health inequities long before coronavirus entered the United States, but the deepening pandemic has made the situation even more risky and the need for reform even more urgent, BPC stated.

“COVID-19 is showing us how important it is to protect this vulnerable population,” Hayes said.

Read BPC’s white papers here.