New Alabama Medicaid reform plan must include strong consumer engagement and oversight

Arise Citizens’ Policy Project policy director Jim Carnes issued the following statement Thursday, July 27, 2017, in response to Alabama Medicaid’s announcement that it will pursue an “alternative” to the regional care organization (RCO) reform plan:

“Alabama Medicaid’s decision to end its effort to develop homegrown managed care through regional care organizations is a disappointment but not a surprise. We’ve seen the Legislature’s support for the plan wane since it passed unanimously in 2013, as expectations for its budgetary impact shifted. Medicaid policy changes promised by Congress and the White House after the November election further clouded the prospects for RCO success.

“From the start, Arise has believed that strong consumer oversight is an essential component of Medicaid reform. That’s why we’ve worked hard with our partners at the Disabilities Leadership Coalition of Alabama to fulfill the consumer engagement role spelled out for us in the RCO law. We regret that this innovative, collaborative experiment has run aground, but we welcome the opportunity to apply those same consumer-focused principles in whatever alternative reforms Medicaid pursues.

“State ‘flexibility’ for Medicaid is a hot topic in Washington right now, and RCOs were a good example of state-based decision-making about health care delivery. But ‘flexibility’ cannot be a code word for undermining the basic promise of Medicaid by cutting essential benefits, shortchanging health care providers or taking away coverage from children, seniors, pregnant women, and people with disabilities across Alabama. Medicaid is the backbone of our state’s health care system, and we must keep it strong.”

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