Medicaid overhaul bill advances in Senate

The House Health Committee on a voice vote on Tuesday favorably reported the Medicaid overhaul bill, SB 340, by Sen. Greg Reed, R-Jasper. The bill goes to the full House and is in place for possible final consideration on Thursday.

Reed and the sponsor of the House version, Rep. Jim McClendon, R-Springville, along with State Health Officer Dr. Don Williamson, have effectively explained the bills to legislators, preparing one for probable passage in the waning days of the 2013 regular legislative session.

“I think it’s important because it will improve the quality of care, it will move us from paying for visits and volume to outcomes and quality,” Williamson said. “You will over a five-year period save $50 to $75 million state dollars.”

The bill if it becomes law will allow the Medicaid Agency to contract with regional care organizations to provide medical services to Medicaid recipients in yet-to-be-determined geographical areas in exchange for a negotiated payment per patient, according to a synopsis of the bill.

The Medicaid regions will have to be in place by Oct. 1. Other deadlines exist before scheduled regional care organization implementation by Oct. 1, 2016.

The current Medicaid system, which Governor Robert Bentley says is unsustainable financially, is a fee-for-service system that pays for each Medicaid visit. The General Fund appropriated some $630 million to Medicaid this year, about one-third of the entire $1.7 billion General Fund.

The Business Council of Alabama supports reform of the state’s Medicaid program to control costs and ensure long-term sustainability by improving efficiency, addressing fraud and abuse, and ensuring access to quality health care for the citizens of Alabama. 

-Dana Beyerle