February 27

LePage officials: Medicaid expansion will hurt state

The governor's anti-expansion campaign continues with testimony from agency chiefs on Wednesday.

By Steve Mistler smistler@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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DHHS commissioner Mary Mayhew described the Katz plan as a “fancy” initiative that would only expand Medicaid and not achieve its stated savings.

Kennebec Journal File Photo

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The plan advanced by Katz would establish a managed care system for all 320,000 beneficiaries of the $2.5 billion program in an effort to control costs.

The Health and Human Services Committee reviewed that bill Wednesday afternoon, but delayed a vote.

The panel could vote on the measure Thursday.

Mayhew described the Katz plan as a “fancy” initiative that would only expand Medicaid and not achieve its stated savings.

She said national studies showed that managed care works only in states with high Medicaid reimbursement rates.

National data shows that managed care in Medicaid is becoming more common as states try to control spending on a program that accounted for 23.6 percent of total state expenditures in fiscal year 2011, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers.

The Kaiser Family Foundation reported that the rate of Medicaid recipients enrolled in some form of managed care increased from 57 percent in 2002 to 66 percent in 2012. Managed care is used in at least 45 states, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Kaiser Foundation also found that managed care produced mixed results, and that significant savings were largely dependent on how states crafted their plans.

The key savings drivers, the report said, were reduced emergency room use and improved use of primary care physicians.

Democratic leaders slammed the administration’s news conference.

Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, took issue with the administration’s characterization of Medicaid recipients as cannibals, saying the beneficiaries of the program were primarily low-income children and the elderly.

House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, said the administration’s response reflected its “fear of the movement that’s happening with health-care expansion.”

Steve Mistler can be contacted at 791-6345 or at:

smistler@pressherald.com

Twitter: @stevemistler

 

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