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Ways and Means plan includes Medicaid initiative

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 21, 2013 at 7:26 pm •  Published: February 21, 2013

It also doles out up to $35 million to hospitals as incentives for innovative care, to include steering frequent ER visitors to clinics for primary care.

The head of the state Hospital association praised the plan for innovation, while continuing to call for Medicaid expansion.

The ideas "reflect the need for a systemic approach to improving our state's health care system," said president Thornton Kirby. But "we continue to believe that increasing access through Medicaid expansion is an integral part of meeting the challenges we face in improving the health status of our state."

Republican Gov. Nikki Haley adamantly opposes expanding eligibility of Medicaid to more poor adults, saying the state can't afford the eventual cost. She praised the House GOP plan.

"Unlike Obamacare, it doesn't pretend that simply giving people a Medicaid card makes them healthy," she said. "Instead, it invests limited state dollars on our biggest problems and demands accountability for outcomes from the health care system."

Democrats point out that the expansion won't cost the state anything for three years. The state would eventually pay a 10 percent match.

"All we have to do is simply say we want to provide health care to more people in the state," said Ott. "At some point, we've got to get over the political problems created in this state by simply saying we don't like anything the federal government does."

He criticized Republicans for funding their plan, in terms of the state's portion, with one-time money from the Medicaid agency's reserve fund. If Republicans were serious about fixing the system, he said, they would pay for it with recurring money.

But White said the initiatives will continue to be funded through the savings they create.

In January, Keck told the Ways and Means Committee that initiatives he's already enacted are savings tens of millions of dollars. Those included lowering administrative rates to managed care organizations and ending payments for unnecessary early deliveries, which were being scheduled for convenience but are more expensive and can result in even more costly intensive care stays.