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Health and Long-Term Care Program Integration

Medicaid Managed Care

Many federal agencies, state governments, providers, and foundations are interested in using managed care for integrating acute care and long-term care. However a number of unresolved practical questions have slowed progress in this area. Two of the most important issues are discussed here. First, combining acute care and long-term care under a single entity raises questions about auspices. Many proponents of long-term care fear that a merged authority will be dominated by a medical mentality and that important social dimensions of long-term care will receive less attention. A second issue has to do with the experience base upon which to establish payment rates for both acute and long-term care services. PACE is the only program that has used a capitation payment blending funds from Medicare and Medicaid. In contrast to this, most state long-term care programs adjust Medicaid payments on the basis of expected Medicare reimbursement. Contractors in these situations are responsible for obtaining the Medicare portion of their payment. On the other hand, if Medicaid is capitated, Medicare usually remains fee-forservice—creating an incentive to shift costs to the fee-for-service payer. If acute care for both Medicaid and Medicare is capitated, then long-term care is usually fee-for-service—creating no incentive for capitated plans to keep members out of the long-term care system because Medicaid will pay for long-term stays. Data systems that can accumulate the full cost (across both Medicare and Medicaid) of the long-term care population or those at risk of entering the long-term care system are only beginning to be implemented.

Recognizing these important knowledge gaps, states have approached acute and long-term care integration in an incremental manner. A handful of states (Arizona, Florida, Minnesota, and Wisconsin) have enrolled elderly persons in Medicaid managed care programs that include varying levels of long-term care coverage (Holahan et al.). Four programs are briefly profiled. An initial common characteristic of these, and the other programs, is that none includes a direct role for the state regarding Medicare reimbursement.

Arizona. Arizona is the only state with a statewide managed care program for persons needing long-term care (Arizona Long Term Care System, ALTCS). The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System contracts with managed care organizations for the coverage of all Medicaid enrollees. A Medicaid recipient is enrolled in ALTCS only if he or she meets Arizona's long-term care criteria. Through ALTCS the state pays managed care organizations (private companies in the Phoenix and Tucson areas, and county governments in the less populous counties) a capitated rate that covers the full range of community-based long-term care and nursing home care. ALTCS contractors are also responsible for the primary and acute care needs of their members, but this program covers only Medicaid costs; Medicare costs are reimbursed on a fee-for-service basis (McCall and Korb).

Florida. Florida has undertaken demonstration projects in three counties with two managed care organizations to examine the effects of managed Medicaid programs for elderly persons. Only recipients who meet the state's criteria for nursing home care are eligible. During the demonstration only those age sixty-five and older were eligible.

In these projects Medicaid is capitated (similar to the Arizona ALTCS program). State law prohibits the program from enrolling members in a Medicare risk contract. The benefits include in-home care, day care, transport services, supplies, and home adaptations.

Minnesota. Minnesota's Prepaid Medical Assistance Program enrolls elderly persons. It includes some community-based long-term care and up to ninety days of nursing facility care. Any additional long-term care is paid on a fee-for-service basis. Minnesota has initiated a waiver to Medicaid regulations so that it can establish the Senior Health Options Project. This program will integrate a full range of Medicare and Medicaid services for older persons who are dually eligible, regardless of whether they need long-term care. Nursing facility liability under this program will be limited to 180 days, but the rate structure provides incentives to purchase community care.

Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Partnership Program serves persons eligible for nursing facilities. The program currently operates as a Medicaid prepaid health plan (which is partially capitated). Medicare is billed by the providers on a fee-for-service basis. Program planners are seeking federal approval for full capitation of both Medicaid and Medicare services.



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Additional topics

Medicine EncyclopediaAging Healthy - Part 2Health and Long-Term Care Program Integration - Program Of All-inclusive Care For The Elderly, Social/health Maintenance Organization, Screening And Service Coordination In Medicare Hmos