At Forum Speakers Agree: Consumer Protection for Dual Eligibles Means Putting the Person First

WASHINGTON, July 15, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- At a forum this week at the Kaiser Family Foundation, several speakers agreed that efforts underway to better integrate Medicare and Medicaid benefits bring great promise but also great risk for the nine million low-income people who rely on both programs to meet their health and long term care needs.

According to a new issue brief from the National Senior Citizens Law Center entitled Ensuring Consumer Protection for Dual Eligibles in Integrated Models, it is essential to have consumer protections in place before new models are implemented.

"Putting the person first is what counts," said Dr. Bruce Chernof, who is president and CEO of The SCAN Foundation.  "A really important challenge is how in these models will incorporate opportunities for home and community based services that are safe and effective and linked to the acute care system."

In the issue brief, NSCLC says that "implemented with the dually eligible person in mind, new integration models offer great potential for improving care, decreasing unnecessary institutionalization, and bending the cost curve in the right direction."

"These are ideas that have potential for really improving quality," added Center for Medicare Advocacy Attorney Patricia Nemore. "Good indicators, less pain, people getting vaccinations and access to preventive care, but, in the short term, it may cost more, not less."

"There's a real risk here that the desire for spending less and for fiscal relief will trump everybody's concern for quality care," noted Georgetown Professor Judy Feder.

However, MMCO Director Melanie Bella said. "We expect that these models are going to improve coordination and quality and that's where we're going to get cost savings," she added.

To download the brief, see the power point from the forum or for more information about National Senior Citizens Law Center, please visit www.NSCLC.org. The brief and forum were supported by a grant from The SCAN Foundation, dedicated to creating a society in which seniors receive medical treatment and human services that are integrated in the setting most appropriate to their needs. For more information, please visit www.TheSCANFoundation.org.

SOURCE National Senior Citizens Law Center

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