Mont. Medicaid Managed Care Plan Chills Health Industry

A plan to privatize some Medicaid services trumpeted by Montana's Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer has received a chilly reception from the health industry, leaving no clear resolution to the state's Medicaid funding problems, The Billings (Mont.) Gazette reports. "My job is to try to find a way to continue to fund Medicaid," Schweitzer said at a meeting Tuesday. "As a manager of Montana's budget, I am worried. ... I'm trying to figure out how can we pay for this?" Health sector representatives and reporters were both invited to the meeting; afterwards, the industry representatives said they'd been mislead. A nursing home spokesperson said, "We were asked to come to a meeting to discuss managed care and instead were used as props at a press conference" (Dennison, 11/9).

At issue, according to Schweitzer, is that the number of state-wide Medicaid enrollees will increase by 56 percent as a result of health reform, and to avoid the grim financial plight of many other states, the governor said, he would need to find a way to pay for it, KRTV News, a Great Falls, Mont., station reports. "The meeting came after news broke back in October that the state is considering privatizing Medicaid in a test run. The Vice President of the Montana Hospital Association, Bob Olsen, responded to the news by telling the Lee State Bureau, 'We are kind of in the dark on what the [g]overnor's office is thinking. There's been no communication at all.'" The governor denied the hospitals' protests (Banks, 11/9).

The Associated Press/Bloomberg Businessweek: At the meeting, "[t]he governor told [industry groups] they are partly to blame for a costly Medicaid system. He says his privatization idea is needed to deal with the federal health care overhaul. ... The idea did not advance any further as a result of the meeting, though industry representatives say they look forward to working with the governor" (11/9).

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