WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD), in partnership with UnitedHealthcare, hosted a briefing today entitled “Medicaid in the New Era: Proven Solutions that Enhance Quality and Reduce Costs.” Featuring a series of presentations from renowned academics and prevention/wellness professionals, the briefing highlighted current programs underway to help reduce Medicaid costs without compromising quality, ultimately providing the opportunity for sustainable savings by focusing on chronic disease, care coordination and management, health technology and other reforms.
Medicaid is among the fastest growing expenditures in state budgets, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) calls for an extension of Medicaid of up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level starting January 1, 2014. At the same time, many states are grappling with fiscal challenges that will require them to adjust their programs. Because of the vulnerability of the Medicaid population, past cuts to benefits or payments to providers have sometimes backfired, leading to lower quality and higher costs.
“In the midst of rising health care spending, increasing health care budgets, and economic uncertainty, efficient use of our public funds and resources is critically important,” said Dr. Ken Thorpe, Executive Director of PFCD and Robert W. Woodruff Professor and Chair, Department of Health Policy & Management, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University. “Medicaid currently stands as one of the largest expenses at the state level, making it a ripe target for spending cuts. But reducing access to care or much needed benefits is not the right solution to lower costs. Instead, policymakers need to focus on the true cost driver within the health care system – chronic disease – and support long-term programs that help prevent and manage these conditions.”
Today, 83 cents of every dollar spent in Medicaid goes to treating often preventable and highly manageable chronic diseases including diabetes, asthma, and hypertension. Though more than 60 percent of adult Medicaid enrollees have a chronic or disabling condition, a mere 4 percent of Medicaid enrollees absorb half of all Medicaid funding. Not only is spending concentrated among a small part of the population, those spending patterns show some persistence over time. Today’s presentation by Dr. Thorpe illustrated how the concentration and persistence of high costs, or “hot spots,” present high-value opportunities to improve outcomes and lower costs.
The PFCD-UnitedHealth Group sponsored event – held at the Hall of States in Washington, D.C. – also featured commentary and presentations of successful state Medicaid programs from a series of panelists, including:
- Thomas Johnson, Executive Director, Medicaid Health Plans of America
- Robert Freeman, co-author of the “The Effectiveness of Disease Management in Medicaid” and Professor, Midway College School of Pharmacy
- Dr. Elizabeth Tilson, M.D. MPH, FACPM, American College of Preventive Medicine and the American Academy of Pediatrics, Wake County (NC) Human Services Child Health Clinic
“Our experience in organizing access to health care services and supporting the delivery of clinical services to 75 million people, including 3.3 million Medicaid beneficiaries, teaches us the importance of decreasing the burden of preventable chronic illness, halting the progression of illness and coordinating comprehensive care services for chronically ill people," said Reed Tuckson, executive vice president and chief of medical affairs, UnitedHealth Group. "We continue to support innovation that augments our portfolio of prevention and care management solutions that meaningfully help address the challenges faced by state governments across the country."
Added Thorpe: “The answer to curbing the rising costs of Medicaid within the states is four-fold: we need to address the ‘hot spots’ of costs, to fill expensive gaps in care, to enhance adherence and self-management, and to promote care coordination. States must act quickly to realize the potential of these efforts and set systems in place before facing the 2014 Medicaid expansion. Without these changes, the budgetary challenges today will seem minor in comparison to those waiting in 2014 and beyond.”
For more information on PFCD, its policies and future events, please visit www.fightchronicdisease.org.
About the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease:
The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD) is a national coalition of patients, providers, community organizations, business and labor groups, and health policy experts committed to raising awareness of the number one cause of death, disability, and rising health care costs in the U.S.: chronic disease.
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 650,000 physicians and care professionals and 5,000 hospitals nationwide. UnitedHealthcare serves more than 37 million people and is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.
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INDUSTRY KEYWORDS: Health Hospitals Public Policy/Government Healthcare Reform Public Policy Diabetes General Health