Medicaid to request more money in 2014 - News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Medicaid to request more money in 2014

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Alabama's Medicaid Agency will request more money from the Alabama Legislature during the 2014 Regular Session.

Dr. Don Williamson, who's been running the Alabama Medicaid Agency since early last year, says the request is out of necessity to ensure that Medicaid reforms work the way they're supposed to.

"Unfortunately, yes, we're going to have to have more money," Williamson said. "There are no more silver bullets that we can pull out."

The Medicaid Agency has seen some cuts in recent years. During the 2011 legislative session, Medicaid was considered to be a "sacred cow" during budget negotiations as it didn't see any substantial cuts. However starting in 2012 and then again in 2013, Medicaid did see cuts from its initial $640 million spending plan.

Republicans and Democrats joined forces during the 2013 Regular Session to approve Medicaid reform that changed Medicaid to a "captitated model" which places specific spending amounts for each Medicaid patient.

"The Medicaid budget, while it may not be fully funded at the level that you'll need it to be when you do capitation. It's got to be very very close to that level or otherwise you can't build a capitation budget," Williamson said.

The state's Medicaid population was also divided into five Regional Care Organizations where patient care will be coordinated.

The primary motivation behind the capitated model for patients had to do with the cost predictability. In other words, the guess work would be minimized because lawmakers and Medicaid officials would have a better idea of how much the state would be spending on each patient.

According to Dr. Williamson, budget writers will have to spend more on Medicaid in 2015 to realize the long-term savings of Medicaid reform.

"We can't continue to assume that we can just cut cut cut without consequences to access," he said.

Lawmakers will meet for the 2014 legislative session on Jan. 14.

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