Win tickets to see the smash hit musical Mamma Mia at the Roanoke Civic Center. Two winners will each receive four tickets!
Health care reforms for the elderly and disabled should lead to expansion of Medicaid for the uninsured.
Friday, May 24, 2013
Legislators appointed to a commission to make sure Medicaid reforms are moving forward should arrive for their first meeting next month with their boots pulled on tight. That horse is already out of the barn and galloping down the road.
Years of work by Bill Hazel, Virginia’s secretary of health and human resources, and his team have come to fruition this spring with initiatives offering better care at more affordable costs for the most difficult patients to serve — low-income elderly and disabled individuals as well as those with mental illnesses.
Commission members should show their appreciation for that progress by backing an expansion of the Medicaid program to cover up to 400,000 uninsured adults now without access to medical care. Legislators who attempt to delay that effort should be called out by more enlightened colleagues, as well as business leaders who support expansion as a means to get a handle on escalating insurance costs.
The headliner this week was approval by federal officials of a three-year pilot project that will improve coordination of care for individuals who are eligible for Medicare because of their age or a disability and also qualify for Medicaid because they are indigent. Participants will trade in their three ID cards for Medicaid, Medicare and prescription drugs, each with a different set of benefits, and join a program overseen by private health care plans.
Most of the 78,000 Virginians enrolled in Medicaid and Medicare, including 13,000 in the Roanoke area, will be able to volunteer for participation starting in January. Those living in far Southwest Virginia will not be included in the pilot. The streamlined program is expected to save taxpayers about $22 million annually.
Gov. Bob McDonnell said earlier this year that the pilot was a necessary step before the state broadens Medicaid eligibility because it allows the state to stabilize expenses for one of the most expensive groups already covered by the insurance program.
Another area of high cost is treatment of mental illness. State officials are preparing to sign a contract with a private company that will extend managed care to behavioral health services, as is already the case with medical care.
Progress in Virginia is plain to anyone not wearing partisan blinders. If some members of the commission squint and stall, Virginians will see that for the political posturing it is.
Weather JournalBreather before next wintry system