Medicaid Grace Period

  • by: |
  • 04/03/2008
Grace, that is, as in Grace-Marie Turner, a member of the President's Medicaid Commission and herself President of the Galen Institute.

Yesterday, in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Health, Grace-Marie presented cogent and important testimony on the Protecting the Medicaid Safety Net Act of 2008 (H.R. 5613).

She made many valid, technically savvy comments and recommendations, but it was her conclusion that should strike at the best bipartisan angels of our legislative nature.

"The president and CEO of the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Denis Cortese, spoke in Washington recently about health reform. Mayo is renowned worldwide for its expertise in medical diagnosis, and Dr. Cortese drew on these capabilities to help policymakers think more strategically about health reform. He said in medical care and in public policy, change must focus on putting the needs of the patient first. Patients want personal, high-value health care, and we need to provide better incentives for programs and providers to provide that care.

Micromanagement of the system through rules and regulations is not putting the patient first. Instead, we need to focus on new financial incentives to encourage patients, providers, program administrators, and the states to make sure they are getting the best value in health spending. Rethinking Medicaid’s financial structure, I believe, is needed.

Our commission heard many, many witnesses testify that patients want a medical home. The worst place to get routine medical care is in a crowded hospital emergency room, but too many Medicaid recipients have no other choice. Having a medical home would mean that someone is working on their behalf to coordinate care. Medicaid doesn’t support the kind of coordination that would lead to better care and more efficient spending.

After hearing hours and hours of testimony during my service on the Medicaid Commission, I believe we must begin the process of transforming this fragmented, procedure-oriented program to one that is focused on coordinated care, results, and outcomes. Quality of care for Medicaid recipients will be improved when health care providers are responding to patients’ needs and not to bureaucratic program rules and regulations.

For Medicaid to become more patient-focused and to more effectively meet the distinctive needs of populations with different needs, Medicaid programs must begin funding health care in a new way. Achieving better quality of care is integrally connected to creating new incentives to achieve better outcomes. This means that new funding mechanisms should be tied to the success of providers and health plans in coordinating patient care, gathering sharable information on the patient’s medical care, and giving patients more information and responsibility to be partners in managing their health.

Focusing on these goals and on putting patients first would assure taxpayers, states, and most importantly, patients, that the system is supporting quality care."

Words well put -- and worth heeding.

Here's a link to Grace-Marie's complete testimony:

Download file

And if you want to consider yourself in the know, my suggestion is this -- read it.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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