States want federal government to pay for 'dual eligibles'

In an attempt to reduce healthcare costs for states, New York Gov. David Paterson is gathering support for a plan that would shift the responsibility of costs for the elderly poor strictly to the federal level, the Associated Press reports. 

The elderly poor are currently considered as "dual membership" cases, because they're covered by the federally funded Medicare and by Medicaid, whose funding is divided between state and federal governments. Having the federal government take over the costs for such patients, states could avoid "catastrophic cuts to education," as well as tax increases, Paterson said. 

According to Paterson, the cost to the federal government would be $70 billion; the savings in just New York would amount to roughly $8 billion. Paterson said he has already discussed the idea with several big states, including California.

California Medicaid director Toby Douglas says that he is on board for anything that saves his state money. "We are very supportive of approaches that better coordinate care for our dual eligibles across our Medicare and Medicaid systems," he said. 

To learn more:
- read this Associated Press article