Realizing the Potential of Special Needs Plans

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<p>Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plans (SNPs) hold great promise to improve the coordination of Medicare and Medicaid benefits for the roughly 7 million individuals who are eligible for both programs. By partnering with state-administered Medicaid programs, these plans can provide beneficiaries with a more comprehensive package of acute care and long-term services--and increase their chance for better health outcomes.<br><br>Two new issue briefs from The Commonwealth Fund provide an overview of Medicare Advantage SNPs and discuss different models that states can use to link their Medicaid programs to these plans. In <a href="/publications/issue-briefs/2008/feb/medicare-advantage-special-needs-plans-for-dual-eligibles--a-primer
">Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plans for Dual Eligibles: A Primer</a>, Charles J. Milligan, Jr., and Cynthia H. Woodcock provide a snapshot of participation in SNPs thus far, discuss the opportunities and challenges presented by SNPs, and describe federal and state actions to promote coordination of dual eligibles' care through SNPs. The brief also discusses new legislative provisions that would promote more coordinated care and greater accountability.<br><br>In <a href="/publications/issue-briefs/2008/feb/coordinating-care-for-dual-eligibles--options-for-linking-state-medicaid-programs-with-medicare-adva
">Coordinating Care for Dual Eligibles: Options for Linking State Medicaid Programs with Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plans</a>, Milligan and Woodcock present three different models that states could utilize to link Medicaid programs with SNPs. The discussion includes the models' advantages and disadvantages, practical guidance on contractual issues important to state Medicaid agencies, and environmental factors that may influence a state's choice of models and the program's ultimate success.</p>