Medicaid bills carried over for technical fine-tuning (UPDATED added link to BCA endorsement)

The House Ways and Means General Fund Committee today carried over three Medicaid bills that were written to help transform Medicaid in a more efficient and affordable health care network for recipients and taxpayers.

Rep. Greg Wren, R-Montgomery, a member of the committee, asked to postpone action on HBs 370, 371, and 372, so at least one of the bills can be revised. The committee voted to carry over the bills sponsored by Wren.

“They’ll be ready in probably another week,” Wren said. Wren is chairman of the Joint Legislative Committee on Medicaid Policy.

The Business Council of Alabama supports efforts to reform Medicaid in order to control costs, address fraud and abuse, and ensure access to quality health care.

State Health Officer Dr. Don Williamson, chairman of Gov. Robert Bentley’s Medicaid Advisory Commission, outlined the current state of Medicaid that received one-third of the state’s $1.7 billion General Fund appropriation this fiscal year.

Medicaid in its current state is growing at an additional rate of about $100 million a year.  The commission recommended regional, community-based managed care for Medicaid recipients.

Williamson said work is needed to addresses waivers granted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “We’re working on waivers to addresses this community-based care,”  Williamson said.

HB 370 would cap General Fund appropriations for Medicaid contingent on passage of legislation establishing proposed Patient Care Case Management Networks across the state.

HB 371 would require Medicaid to seek a waiver from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to increase Medicaid recipient co-payments for health care services.

HB372 would abolish the legislature‘s Medicaid Joint Interim Committee and the Permanent Joint Legislative Committees on Medicaid Policy and would create the Permanent Joint Medicaid Committee.

Bentley created the Medicaid Advisory Commission in October. His goal is to reform Medicaid by improving financial stability and patient care.

Williamson said the current Medicaid system encourages expensive hospital emergency room utilization and doesn’t encourage physician and patient interaction to improve health. “My goal is to change Medicaid where appropriate to get different outcomes,” Williamson said.

– Dana T. Beyerle