MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar was passionate to lawmakers Tuesday in protecting her program.
"I'm being very passionate in support of the RCO program," Azar said.
Despite the commissioner's best efforts, however, the State Contract Review Committee decided to hold an $8.3 million contract, which is supposed to help the state transition into a system of Regional Care Organizations, or RCO's.
"They are holding the contracts and that's the only way I can move forward with it, I get a little frustrated with that," Azar said.
The hold on the contract comes just one day after the Gulf Coast Regional Care Organization sent a notice they were d ropping from the RCO program. GCRCO is the third of the state's 11 RCO's to d rop from the program.
"It is concerning and I wish they would have stayed in, but they have made it very clear that the reason they are looking to get out is due to apprehension of the long term funding of this program," Azar said.
Funding may be a problem. Senator Bill Holtzclaw said there was "sticker shock" with the RCO program that is supposed to help control the cost of Medicaid.
In just two years, Medicaid projects to see a $195 million shortfall. However, according to Azar, the state will need that money with or without the implementation of the RCO's.
"As I just stated to the committee, the legislature is going to have to come up with revenue for the Medicaid program, even if we don't go to RCO's," Azar said.
According to Azar, the state has until Oct. 2017 to implement the program, or else it will die and with it more than $700 million in federal money.
The goal of RCO's is to divide Medicaid care into different regions around the state. The idea is these organizations can be more efficient and control the rising cost of Medicaid if they are split up.