Changing the chronic care system to meet people’s needs.

Persons who are likely to be the heaviest users of medical and supportive care services—those with chronic illnesses, disabilities, and functional limitations—are often forced to navigate a system that requires them to perform most of the coordination functions themselves and is generally not organized around their needs. In 1996 an estimated 128 million Americans had at least one of these three conditions, and 9.5 million had all three. This paper examines the current programs designed to assist these persons and suggests changes in eligibility rules, coverage policies, and educational programs to provide a system more oriented to people’s chronic care needs.