Tens of thousands of chronically sick, disabled or elderly people in Washington are what’s known as “dual eligibles” in healthcare lingo — people who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid.
Navigating both healthcare systems can be daunting, like “trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle in the dark,” said DSHS Secretary Robin Arnold-Williams.
That will change starting in April under HealthPathWashington, a new plan announced today by Gov. Chris Gregoire at a press conference. Federal officials have given the state the green light to move forward with the project, which integrates services and provides a “care coordinator” to walk people through the system.
The program is voluntary and will initially target 30,000 of the most high-risk people who qualify for both programs.
It’s expected to save the state $14 million over the next five years by reducing trips to the emergency room and avoiding other unnecessary health costs.
Gregoire said she’s been working on the issue throughout her tenure as governor, and was “made even more steadfast” when her dual eligible aunt in Spokane was unnecessarily hospitalized.