Calif. Official: State Could Dump Health Plan For Kids And Maintain Quality Care

California's top health official said Tuesday that she thinks the state can end a health care program for low-income children without disrupting their care. In the meantime, officials in Illinois and Oregon also consider how to change their Medicaid programs to control health care costs -- and their bottom lines.

The Associated Press: Health Shift Will Affect 860,000 In California
California's top health care official told lawmakers Tuesday she is confident the state can eliminate a health insurance program serving more than 860,000 children from low-income families without disrupting the quality of their care. Lawmakers held a hearing in the state Senate wanting to know if the administration is prepared to make the transition without disrupting children's medical care. California is eliminating its Healthy Families program and moving those children into the state's Medicaid program in an effort to save a projected $73 million a year (Lin, 10/17).

The Associated Press: Partnerships To Help Control Ill. Medicaid Costs
A for-profit nursing home company owned by a politically connected Chicago businessman is a partner in a project Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced Tuesday that aims to control health spending for high-cost Medicaid recipients. Instead of turning most of Medicaid over to national for-profit managed care companies, state officials are opening some contracts to Illinois health care providers such as hospitals and mental health centers. The hope is they could work together to lower costs and eliminate unnecessary care -- including some emergency room visits -- while still serving patients' needs. It's those collaborative projects that were announced Tuesday (10/16).

The Lund Report: Preparing For New Cost-Saving, Health-Enhancing Workers On The Care Team
If coordinated care organizations (CCO) work as intended, they're expected to rely on non-traditional health care workers to improve health outcomes and help reduce costs for the state's Medicaid population. Oregon became the first state to enact legislation that identified three classes of health care workers as part of the care team for people on the Oregon Health Plan -- community health workers, peer wellness specialists and personal health navigators -- then gained approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to set up a payment category. For all three categories, the rubber will meet the road around training and certification requirements (Rubin, 10/16).

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