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Minnesota senior health program works

ST. PAUL -- A federal study shows that a Minnesota health effort that combines two major health programs works for the state's elderly.

The study said that older adults served by the Minnesota Senior Health Options program, combining federal Medicaid and Medicare benefits, showed patients were much less likely to end up in hospitals and they received better care. Those who were hospitalized, the study showed, had shorter stays.

"This study affirms the value of what we have been doing in Minnesota for almost two decades," Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper said on Friday. "We hope other states can learn from our experience as they work to better serve low-income seniors."

The program serves about 36,000 Minnesotans.

Medicare is for the elderly, while Medicaid -- called Medical Assistance in Minnesota -- serves the poor. Not everyone on one program receives benefits from the other, but there is a significant crossover.

People eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare tend to have multiple chronic conditions and significant health care costs.

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