Director's Corner: What’s Next for Medicare-Medicaid Enrollees?

Last Wednesday, the Center was honored to host “The Dual Imperative: What’s Next for Medicare-Medicaid Enrollees” in Washington, D.C. to discuss improving care for the 11 million people enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid. This population includes older adults, people with disabilities and people with complex chronic conditions, many of whom are failed by a health care system that often provides insufficient, poorly coordinated and ineffectively delivered services. This population has the most to gain if we can all work together to improve health care, and the most to lose if we don’t collectively get it right.

The meeting in D.C. marked the five year anniversary of the Financial Alignment Initiatives, an effort to create better integrated care for Medicare-Medicaid enrollees. With this anniversary, we – like many of you – have been asking ourselves, “What comes next?” What are the big and bold initiatives needed to improve care, but also, what are the practical, incremental and everyday actions that can help make care better coordinated and more person-centered?

Through the generous support of The Commonwealth Fund, The John A. Hartford Foundation, the Peterson Center on Healthcare, The SCAN Foundation and the Valerie Wilbur Health Policy Fellowship Fund, we were thrilled to be able to bring together a wonderful group of leading policy experts, researchers, health plan leaders, health care providers, entrepreneurs and consumer leaders to talk about what has been learned to date, and to plan for what’s next.

At the Center, our mission is to ensure that consumers are at the center of the health care system, and that includes meaningfully engaging consumers in meetings and policy discussions like this one. We were honored to host Renée Hill and William Lovett, along with their advocacy partner Erin Ninehouser from the Pennsylvania Health Access Network; Michael Seunegal and Jay Finch along with their advocacy partner, Jen Mullins from the Michigan Disability Rights Coalition; Sherman Pines, along with his advocacy partner, Ray Gagne from the Rhode Island Organizing Project; and Dennis Heaphy, who is a Medicare-Medicaid enrollee and a health policy analyst for the Disability Policy Consortium in Massachusetts. We thank them for traveling to D.C. to share their important perspectives both at the symposium, and in visits to Congressional and administration leaders.

Looking back, the symposium gave us much-needed space to reflect on what we’ve learned so far, both in the evaluations of the Financial Alignment Initiatives and in research on the characteristics of the Medicare-Medicaid population as a whole.

It also gave us a space to discuss a way forward; to build on what we’ve learned, to evaluate what’s worked and what hasn’t and to look for consensus on what we can do to continue to improve care for the populations that have so much riding on it.

We were also reminded that people are much more than their insurance status and that a person’s quality of life cannot be addressed solely in a doctor’s office. The need to tackle the social and economic factors that influence health, including the importance of housing, reliable transportation and nutritious food, were a frequent source of discussion throughout the afternoon.

While we managed to pack a lot into four hours, the symposium marked the beginning, not the end, of a process. We’re now taking the information that was shared to help plan for next steps.

In the immediate term, I’d encourage you to check out the sessions in our video archive of the symposium livestream, look through the portrait and quote gallery we created featuring Medicare-Medicaid enrollees and review the latest evaluations of the Financial Alignment Initiatives. We’re also compiling a synthesis of the day’s discussion that will be ready early next year (stay tuned)!

What do you think the future holds for Medicare-Medicaid enrollees? Please tweet us @CCEHI and #DualsFuture.