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Today’s Fayetteville Observer hits the nail on the head with this editorial condemning the state Senate’s plan to turn North Carolina’s Medicaid program over to giant, for-profit insurance corporations:

“The N.C. Senate’s drive to restructure the Medicaid program is making less sense all the time.

We understand lawmakers sometimes succumb to the urge to fix what’s not broken. But when they, and the voters, see mayhem coming, they usually back away.

We hope that’s happening this week, as members of the General Assembly get more evidence that our Medicaid management model is anything but broken.

According to just-released long-term review by the State Auditor’s office, the agency that administers the Medicaid program here is saving taxpayers a bundle – and providing improved medical outcomes at the same time.

The audit measured results achieved by Community Care of North Carolina from 2003 through 2012. The physician-led program has won national acclaim for its effectiveness in running the health-insurance program for the poor and disabled. Other states are copying the system, which has produced budget surpluses for the past two fiscal years.

Medicaid, funded jointly by the state and federal governments, covers about 1.4 million North Carolina residents. According to the audit, Community Care succeeded in managing medical conditions and keeping patients out of the hospital. That resulted in savings of about $78 per user per quarter, which adds up to saving state and federal taxpayers something approaching half a billion dollars a year.

Most lawmakers would likely agree that we’re talking real money there, yet the drive for privatization still has its hooks in the Senate, our legislative branch most driven by ideologues. Read More

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MedicaidThere’s new and compelling evidence that North Carolina’s model for delivering Medicaid (Community Care North Carolina -CCNC) is a winner — notwithstanding the often-bumbling oversight provided by embattled state DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos and the attempt by Senate leaders to sell the program off to a private managed care company. (It’s worth noting that the flawed sell-off idea was once also touted by Gov. McCrory and Sec. Wos as well until the two gradually came to their senses over the past year).

Today, in a letter to state Medicaid directors throughout the country, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at the national DHHS announced today that they are launching a new national collaborative initiative called the “Medicaid Innovation Accleerator Program.” The goal of initiative is “to improve care and improve health for Medicaid beneficiaries and reduce costs by supporting states in accelerating new payment and service delivery reforms.”

The letter announcing the initiative holds up three examples of state innovation success in Ohio, Washington and North Carolina. Here’s what it has to say about North Carolina: Read More

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Pretty soon, the far right is going to have to find another public program to serve as its official whipping boy when it comes to telling the story repeating the ideological talking point that North Carolina government is “broken.” The one about Medicaid — the health insurance program for low income people — being the problem keeps on getting disproved.

We’ve already reported about how Senator Richard Burr keeps praising NC Medicaid. Now comes new evidence of Medicaid’s effectiveness in an article in the wonky journal, Health Affairs.  Here’s the abstract of the study featured: Read More

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pinocchio statuteIn announcing his plan to privatize North Carolina’s award-winning Medicaid program, Community Care of NC, Governor Pat McCrory laid out five key reasons that in his view privatization is necessary.  The only problem?  None of them hold up under the even the most cursory scrutiny.  I’ll thoroughly debunk each in turn:

McCrory’s #1 claim why NC should privatize:  “[NC Medicaid Community Care] does not focus on measuring and improving overall health outcomes for recipients”

Community Care is proven to provide much better access to health care services that results in measurable improvements in health shown through changes in health service use.

For example, an exhaustive study last year of how children and others on NC Medicaid are using health services found that children with asthma enrolled in Community Care spent much less time admitted to the hospital and in the emergency room than children not enrolled.  At the same time these children with asthma spent more time in their family doctor’s office and getting medication to manage their condition.  This is the very definition of a better health outcome.

And Community Care doesn’t stop there.  CCNC has a detailed process for measuring quality of care delivered by providers statewide and encouraging better quality– the “Quality Measurement and Feedback” program.

McCrory’s #2 claim why NC should privatize:  “[NC Medicaid Community Care] lacks a culture of customer service and operates in silos, making it difficult for recipients to know where to go to receive the right care”

Governor McCrory might want to take a look at the actual Medicaid card sent to people on Medicaid when they sign up.   It includes the name, address and phone number of the Medicaid recipient’s family doctor or health practice printed right on the card.  You don’t get much easier direction as to who to call first when you get sick than that.

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