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Medicaid Managed Care for People with Disabilities

Friday, March 15, 2013
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This report is intended to address the implications of managed health care and long-term supports for all subpopulations of Medicaid-eligible people with disabilities, including those with physical, developmental, behavioral, and sensory disabilities. While in many respects managed care has similar ramifications for older Medicaid recipients, the primary focus of the present analysis is on people ages 3 through 64 with chronic disabilities.

The report is divided into four chapters. Chapter 1 summarizes basic concepts underlying a managed care approach to delivering health care services, including the historical roots of those concepts. In addition, it reviews the origins and subsequent growth of managed care within the federal-state Medicaid program. The primary aim of the chapter is to provide readers with a firm grounding in the basic rationale for managed care and the principal techniques used in operating Medicaid managed care programs. Emphasis is on the growth of managed care arrangements within the overall Medicaid program and the reasons this trend is likely to continue and increasingly encompass health care and long-term supports for people with disabilities.

Chapter 2 reviews the Medicaid program’s wide-ranging role in serving people with disabilities, including the number and composition of nonelderly people who qualify for Medicaid benefits on the basis of disability, the types of services they receive, and their recent utilization and expenditure trends in Medicaid-funded services. In addition, this chapter pinpoints the unique challenges associated with enrolling people with disabilities in Medicaid managed care arrangements and outlines the reasons that states, with an increasing sense of urgency, are choosing to confront these challenges.

Chapter 3 contains a set of principles to guide federal and state officials, as well as disability stakeholders, in designing and implementing managed care programs for Medicaid beneficiaries with disabilities. These principles articulate the broad societal outcomes that a managed care program should seek to achieve, and spell out the essential components of a well-designed, effectively administered service system for people with physical, sensory, developmental, and behavioral disabilities. Included with each of the 22 principles is a brief elaboration on the actions necessary to honor the principle, including in several instances state-specific illustrations.

Chapter 4 provides NCD’s recommended action strategies to ensure the successful enrollment of people with disabilities in Medicaid managed health care and long-term support systems. These recommendations, addressed to federal and state officials, are aimed at improving the overall accessibility and quality of Medicaid-funded services and supports furnished to people with disabilities.

An official website of the National Council on Disability