California Healthline: Study: Dual Eligibles Worried About April Transition to Managed Care

by David Gorn

UCLA researchers yesterday released a study that shows heightened concern and confusion among California seniors and the disabled over the state’s plan to move dual eligibles — Californians eligible for both Medi-Cal and Medicare — into managed care plans.

The duals demonstration project scheduled to start Apr. 1 is a central piece of the state’s Coordinated Care Initiative. The duals project will combine the financing and health care services provided by Medi-Cal and Medicare and integrate them into a managed care plan designed to offer more comprehensive services to beneficiaries at a lower cost to the state.

The study includes individual interviews with dual-eligibles affected by the impending program. Many beneficiaries are wary, according to researchers.

“These are big choices for anyone to make, let alone a choice that can be made by someone with cognitive problems,” said Kathryn Kietzman, principal author of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research study.

“Not only will they have to choose [whether or not to opt out of the program] — if they realize they have to make a choice and have the wherewithal to choose — but once they do, they may have to deal with new providers,” Kietzman said. “This is a vulnerable population.”

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