Gov. McCrory: Best to Gradually Reform North Carolina's Medicaid System

Gov. McCrory: Best to Gradually Reform North Carolina's Medicaid System

9:41pm Jul 21, 2014
Dr. Martha Perry (l) leads Governor Pat McCory (c) and DHHS Sec. Aldona Wos (r) on a tour of the Cone Health Center for Children. Dr. Perry specializes in adolescent medicine and is the medical director.
Kathryn Mobley

Governor Pat McCrory visits the Triad, stirs up support for his Medicaid reform proposal.On July 21, Monday afternoon in Greensboro, Governor Pat McCrory spoke at a round-table hosted by Moses Cone Hospital. Physicians, administrators and members of the Triad Healthcare Network explained their challenges in caring for the area’s growing un-insured and under-insured population. N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos and state Medicaid Director Robin Cummings also attended.According to the governor, North Carolina’s Medicaid system should be run by Accountable Care Organizations that are led by healthcare providers. He also wants the system to be flexible so it can be regionally modified to better address public needs. “Instead of having a one fit system for the nation, why don’t we let North Carolina develop its own system," says McCrory. "Even within North Carolina, we need to give flexibility to the hospitals and doctors and let them do their practice but let them do it at an effective cost.” Some key elements of McCrory’s proposal include physicians would have to meet certain quality criteria in order to be paid. They’d also provide a combination of physical and behavioral treatments to patients. Recently, the state House passed this proposal.

McCrory then toured the Cone Health Center for Children. It opened in February and daily, physicians see about 100 patients. Dr. Martha Perry is an adolescent medicine specialist and the medical director. She anticipates by next year, the center will provide care to about 25,000 children. She says about 80 percent of the children receive Medicaid while the remaining 20 percent is a mix of private pay and uninsured. She led the governor's group through the center and introduced him to several parents and their children. One couple was David Andre Kirby and Monique Headley. Their first child, two week old daughter, Elise, who was in for a checkup. Elise was born July 9, 2014 and Headley says Medicaid has helped her take better care of the infant. Headly enjoyed meeting the governor, but disagrees with his refusal to expand Medicaid coverage. “At the end of the day, people need help and if they can’t afford insurance, I think it would be nice for someone to give them that help so they can get the attention they need,” says Headley. McCrory has long said the state can’t afford the current Medicaid system nor an expansion.  According to the Associated Press, North Carolina annually spends about $3.5 billion to treat 1.7 million Medicaid recipients.

Meanwhile, the state senate has laid out a different Medicaid reform plan. Private, for-profit managed-care companies would coordinate patient services, physicians would get a fixed amount for treating each patient and Medicaid would be removed from under the Department of Health and Human Services. 

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