Supporting Integration of Medicare and Medicaid in North Carolina

Supporting Integration of Medicare and Medicaid in North Carolina


North Carolina (NC) is in the midst of a major shift from fee-for-service (FFS) to Medicaid managed care and other value-based care transformation efforts. Scheduled to go live July 1, 2021, the state will use Prepaid Health Plan (PHP) managed care contracts for Medicaid-only beneficiaries. PHPs are envisioned to provide and manage comprehensive physical health, behavioral health, and long-term services and supports (LTSS) for Medicaid-only enrollees under a single capitated rate.

As part of its care transformation efforts, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) is keenly interested in developing options to integrate care for individuals who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. In 2019, 12 million beneficiaries nationwide were either fully or partially enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid, with over 300,000 in North Carolina. However, only about one million dually eligible beneficiaries in the US are enrolled in programs designed to better integrate Medicare and Medicaid. Dually eligible beneficiaries have complex medical and psycho-social needs. The lack of integration has led to suboptimal access to care, poor outcomes, and a lack of seamless experiences with the care delivery system. Despite concerted federal and state efforts, only about a third of the states have integrated care for dually eligible beneficiaries.

In 2017, NC released a legislatively mandated strategy paper outlining potential approaches for integration. The strategy paper left many questions central to program design unanswered, including those pertaining to eligibility, structure, and phase-in of benefits and services.


Working in collaboration with NC DHHS, and with support from Arnold Ventures and the Center for Health Care Strategies, the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy will develop policy options for Medicare-Medicaid integration in NC and prepare a practical planning guide that can be used by other states seeking to achieve similar objectives.


We plan to use a phased, multi-component approach to develop the policy options:

  • Convening an Advisory Panel of national and state experts in Medicare-Medicaid integration, engaging NC DHHS, and soliciting input and perspectives from key NC stakeholders who could be affected by proposed changes
  • Completing a mixed methods study that includes interviews with relevant stakeholders and analyses of a newly linked Medicaid and Medicare fee-for-service dataset of the NC dually eligible  population.

The project will also be completed in two phases:

  • Phase 1 (2021): Gathering expert advisory panel insights at two meetings, carrying out a rapid literature review, conducting stakeholder interviews with an emphasis on NC engagement, and data curation and preparation.
  • Phase 2 (2022): Data analysis and broad NC stakeholder engagement to refine the policy options and to obtain stakeholder buy-in of the policy vision.
Whole-person care cover graphic

Project Publications and Resources

We developed a report, North Carolina Medicare-Medicaid Integration: Advancing Whole-Person Care, to provide NC DHHS with pragmatic, evidence-based options for Medicare-Medicaid integration in the state.


The report is accompanied by a practical guide for states interested in developing a tailored, evidence-based Medicare-Medicaid integration strategy.

Duke-Margolis Project Team


Aparna Higgins

Senior Policy Advisor


Brystana Kaufman, MSPH, PhD

Assistant Professor, Population Health Sciences
Margolis Core Faculty

Rebecca Whitaker Headshot

Rebecca Whitaker, PhD, MSPH

Research Director, North Carolina Health Care Transformation
Core Faculty Member
Senior Team Member
Anti-Racism and Equity Committee Member

Corinna Sorenson

Corinna Sorenson, PhD, MHSA, MPH

Faculty Director of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies
Senior Advisor and Founding Director, Margolis Scholars Program
Assistant Professor in Population Health Sciences and Public Policy
Margolis Core Faculty
Anti-Racism and Equity Committee Member


Mark Japinga, MPAff

Research Associate

Montgomery Smith Headshot

Montgomery Smith, MPH

Senior Policy Analyst