Sobering results for cost-cutting Medicare project

WASHINGTON (AP) - An ambitious attempt to cut Medicare costs has proved disappointing.

The government-funded study tried to keep aging, sick Medicare patients out of the hospital.

Most of the patients had serious, but common, age-related illnesses including diabetes, heart disease and lung disease. Programs were set up at 15 centers around the country with more than 18,000 patients enrolled. About half of those patients got coordinated care, which often involved nurses who acted as go-betweens.

Only two of the programs cut the number of times these patients were hospitalized. None saved Medicare any money.

The disappointing results show how tough it is to manage older patients with chronic diseases. They also point up the challenges the Obama administration will face in trying to reform health care for an aging nation.

The study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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