Monday, July 15, 2013

Kentucky: a Preview of What is About to Occur on Jan. 1 When We Expand Medicaid by a Third Nationwide

This is from Jenni Bergal writing for Kaiser Health News and the Washington Post: 

...Ever since Kentucky rapidly shifted patients from traditional Medicaid to private health plans that manage their care for a set price, problems have been widespread.

Patients complain of being denied treatment or forced to travel long distances to find a doctor or hospital in their plan’s network. Advocates for the mentally ill argue the care system for them has deteriorated. And hospitals and doctors say health plans have denied or delayed payments.

Experts warn that what happened in Kentucky should be a cautionary tale for other states that rush to switch large numbers of people in Medicaid, the state-federal program for the poor and disabled, to managed care in hopes of cutting costs and improving quality. Nearly 30 million Americans on Medicaid now belong to a private health plan, as states move away from the traditional program that paid doctors and hospitals for each service they provided.

Beginning in January, millions more people will become eligible for Medicaid under the federal health law, and many will be placed in managed care. Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia have enrolled some or all of their Medicaid population in private health plans, which last year cost the states and federal government about $108 billion....