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Medicaid experiments in Sec. Leavitt’s state

Secretary-designate Mike Leavitt, ex Governor of Utah (R), was confirmed by the Senate today. We have alluded to his background in health policy matters, specifically Medicaid experiments, when as Utah Gov. he received approval from CMS to reduce benefits in return for expanding coverage.
As his approval nears, deeper consideration of the Utah experiment is required. While no one knows what will happen with Medicaid, it certainly appears that his efforts as Gov. did not hinder his chances for high office in the present administration.
The program reduced benefits for substance abuse and mental health, increased physician and prescription fees to some beneficiaries, and terminated a program for chronically ill low-income patients.
In return, (According to California Healthline) “The program covers physician visits, basic dental care and up to four prescriptions monthly.
In addition, hospitals in the state agreed to provide $10 million a year in no-cost care for PCN patients, and some specialist physicians also offered their services for no cost. The state anticipated that the new program would allow 25,000 people to obtain coverage for preventive medical care, the Journal reports.
Results have been mixed. “with critics calling the new levels of coverage “so basic as to be inadequate,” and supporters pointing to early data that suggest a drop in the number of people requiring hospital stays and emergency department visits…”
Expect to see many more states adopt variations of the “standard” Medicaid programs as they struggle with rising Medicaid costs and reduced federal reimbursement.

Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates



A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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