Dual Eligibles: Low-Income Medicare and Medicaid Beneficiaries
Low-income seniors and people with disabilities who receive Medicare and Medicaid (known as dual eligibles) should be able to access the health care and long term services and supports that they need. Through advocate trainings and administrative advocacy at the state and federal level, we work to remove barriers that exacerbate the disparities this group faces.
Dual eligibles are a diverse group, whose one underlying feature is poverty. Dual eligibles on average have higher health needs than other Medicare beneficiaries. They are also more likely to experience disparities in access to medical care due to language, sexual orientation, disability, or language barriers. They are more likely to be women and people of color than other Medicare beneficiaries. Their need for long-term services and supports is also greater. This is a population at great risk of experiencing life-threatening gaps in health care.
Under a provision of the Affordable Care Act, a ten states are implementing demonstrations that seek to integrate the delivery and financing of Medicare and Medicaid benefits by enrolling dual eligibles into private managed care plans. These demonstrations offer the promise of person-centered, integrated care for millions of poor seniors, but they also bring the risk that services will be cut and important protections lost in search of cost savings.
Justice in Aging works to protect dual eligibles entering these new programs by ensuring they are adequately informed of care changes; they retain access to doctors of their choice; they maintain services and care without disruptions; and they get help navigating an appeals system that honors their due process rights.
As national experts on issues affecting dual eligibles, Justice in Aging is an information hub for advocates and a feedback loop to policymakers implementing new programs. Advocates across the country rely on our resources and trainings to help them counsel the clients they serve directly. Last year alone we trained over 13,000 advocates and direct service providers on issues impacting dual eligibles. We meet regularly with health plan administrators and government agencies to share on-the-ground stories gathered from the advocates we train, and push for needed fixes to the program. We seek to ensure that new programs actually work as they should and also to fix longstanding dysfunctions in older continuing programs that keep dual eligibles from getting the services they need.
A separate Justice in Aging website provides aging and disability advocates the information and tools they need to advocate for strong consumer protections in new dual eligible demonstrations. On this site, you’ll find reports, summaries, and comments on state proposals and plans, as well as state profiles and federal guidance. Recent work highlighted below.