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Fixing Medicaid for the better

Like all states, Wisconsin felt a crushing pressure to save money in Medicaid in 2009.

The governor and legislature decided to cut as much as $625 million from the program. Slashing public programs is nothing new. But what is interesting is how the state achieved its savings.

Medicaid directed a 6-month process dubbed the Rate Reform Project where advocates, academics, providers and others met and hashed out how the program could be made more efficient. In theory this is an attractive idea, as we know there are ways to save money and improve care.

In the end Wisconsin not only cut costs, it expanded coverage. You can read the entire story at Stateline.

I’m not sure if a similar initiative could succeed in North Carolina. I’m not even sure it succeeded in Wisconsin, but I would be interested in hearing from people who may know. I could see how the process here could get hijacked by anti-government zealots or special interests that want more money to deliver less care.

Nevertheless, it’s an interesting project, and maybe something worth considering.

One Comment

  1. Rick Banas

    September 8, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Illinois developed a program during a budget crisis back in the mid 1990s that is designed to help reduce Medicaid costs for nursing home care.

    Prior to the advent of the Supportive Living program older adults who needed some help to maintain their independence but could not afford assisted living had only two choices. They could struggle along at home or move to a nursing home. As a result, there were a lot of people living in nursing homes at the state’s expense who did not need to be in a nursing.

    The state created a program that benefitted both the state and the older adult.

    A person on Medicaid living in a Supportive Living community costs the state at least 40% less than having the person in a nursing home.

    The person benefits from being able to live in a much more dignified environment that is residential in nature while receiving the personal assistance and help with medications they need. The person also benefits from having plenty of convenient opportunities available for socialization with peers and from being able to participate in social and recreational programs and events.

    Over the past 10 years, the program has experienced tremendous growth, with 120 Supportive Living communities housing 9,500 apartments now in operation throughout the state.

    The program is open to adults 65 and older of all incomes, with approximately 60% of the residents living in Supportive Living communities being Medicaid-residents