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Health program for disabled adults scaled back, leaving enrolles with fewer choices

Quincy, MA--7/18/2013--Jamal Lee (cq) washes dishes after making breakfast for his sons, Xavier Lee (cq), 9, and Jodie Grant (cq), 5, right, on Thursday July 18, 2013. The 42-year-old has been paralyzed since age 17 and credits his current medical care group with improving his quality of life. He calls the practitioners, including clerical staff, "superheroes, who battle the insurance company for us." He continues, "I've never met people like that. To have someone who looks out for you like family is refreshing." Photos by Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff Topic: insurance Reporter: Chelsea Conaboy
Jamal Lee, 42, who lost the use of his legs when he was shot at the age of 17, credits his current medical care group with improving his quality of life. “It’s not like dealing with a business,” Lee said. “It’s like dealing with a family.”Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

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Massachusetts health insurers’ reluctance to join a national experiment to improve care for disabled lower income adults has forced the state to scale back the program even before it starts.

Half the insurers that were expected to participate backed out because they feared losing money, and that will mean fewer options for patients when enrollment opens for the voluntary “One Care” program in October.

Massachusetts is among the first states to roll out the national program to provide intensive services and cut costs for up to 2 million people with the most complicated and expensive medical needs. Some patient advocates say a smaller, slower start may be better for vulnerable patients, allowing time to work out the inevitable kinks of any new initiative.

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