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COVID-19’s Toll Underscores Need to Address Health and Social Needs of Dual-Eligible Individuals

In a new letter to the Congressional Social Determinants of Health Caucus, Arnold Ventures emphasizes the urgent importance to improve care for those who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid.

A registered nurse cares for a patient in the Emergency Room at Providence St. Mary Medical Center amid a surge in COVID-19 patients in Southern California earlier this year in Apple Valley, California. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Among those hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic is a population that has particularly high levels of social determinants of health needs: the dual-eligible” population, or the 12 million people simultaneously enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid. 

Given the bifurcation between Medicare and Medicaid, dual-eligible individuals have long struggled to navigate two complicated and distinct systems and providers in order to receive care. A challenge for anyone, accessing appropriate care models is made more difficult — but also more critical — by the fact that dual-eligible individuals are more likely than the average Medicare beneficiary to be low-income, experience food and housing insecurity, and identify as racial and ethnic minorities. 

The pandemic revealed the depth of these challenges. Dual-eligible individuals were more than three times as likely as the average Medicare beneficiary to be hospitalized from COVID-19. This dramatic toll underscores the urgent need to address the fragmented care and coverage system that serves dual-eligible individuals.

In a response to a Request for Information (RFI) released by the newly formed Congressional Caucus for Social Determinants of Health, Arnold Ventures outlined the specific social needs that affect care and outcomes for for dual-eligible individuals and identified opportunities for policy change.

Read our response below or here.