MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The governor's Medicaid Advisory Committee recommended Wednesday that Alabama's Medicaid program be divided into as many as 11 or 12 divisions across the state.
The CEO of Children's Hospital in Birmingham, Mike Warren, made the recommendation to the committee during a meeting Wednesday at the county health department in Montgomery. It was approved by an overwhelming voice vote.
The chairman of the commission, state Health officer Don Williamson, said each division would manage its own program. Committee members say the divisions reflect the different needs in various parts of the state. Williamson said it would most likely be 2015 before the new Medicaid structure was in pace.
"We won't have an infinite amount of time to do this," the state health officer said.
Gov. Robert Bentley created the committee to look for better and more economical ways to manage the state's health care program for the poor. Williamson says the committee will likely have one more meeting to complete the final wording of its recommendations, which are due by Jan. 31.
Asked his opinion about the committee's recommendation, Williamson said: "My job is to present proposals to the governor and to implement what the governor wants."
He said each region would need to have a hospital located within the region, which he said might be a problem in some economically disadvantaged rural parts of the state.
Committee members said the model approved was similar to one used in Oregon.
The committee consisted of legislators, medical professionals and various government officials.
Williamson and several committee members agreed that it would probably be up to legislators to come up with a final solution.