Gov. Bentley visits Montgomery hospital to push for Medicaid imp - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Gov. Bentley visits Montgomery hospital to push for Medicaid improvements

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Alabama Governor Robert Bentley on Tuesday visited Jackson Hospital in Montgomery to highlight his support for legislation he says is designed to transform the Alabama Medicaid Agency into a more efficient and more affordable program for taxpayers. 

Governor Bentley stopped short of endorsing an expansion of the program under the new federal healthcare law.

The proposed legislation, to be introduced by Senate Health Committee Chair Greg Reed (R-Jasper) and House Health Committee Chair Jim McClendon (R-Springville), incorporates recommendations from the Alabama Medicaid Advisory Commission. 

Governor Bentley established the commission in October. The Governor says his goal is to improve Medicaid's financial stability while also providing high-quality patient care. The 33-member commission submitted its final report to Governor Bentley on January 30. 

"We now have a chance to turn Alabama Medicaid into a program that provides better care while making more efficient use of taxpayer dollars," Governor Bentley said.  "The Alabama Medicaid Agency is also taking steps to prevent fraud and abuse of the system.  Improving Medicaid is a long-term process, and the recommendations provided by the commission will help us put the proper reforms into place, which will benefit patients and taxpayers alike." 

The legislation will help the Alabama Medicaid Agency end its current "fee-for-service" model in favor of regional managed care networks.  The networks would then work to provide better, more efficient care for patients while also working to control costs to the state. 

State Health Officer Dr. Donald Williamson, chair of the Alabama Medicaid Advisory Commission, said the legislation will need to be paired with private-sector efforts to create care networks that could contract with Medicaid to provide services to Medicaid beneficiaries.  Dr. Williamson also reiterated that Medicaid is taking steps to improve fraud and abuse prevention and to shift to a payment system that rewards good outcomes and quality. 

"We are providing a different Medicaid program, one that's designed locally and implemented locally by people who best understand the local healthcare needs," Dr. Donald Williamson said.  "The commission appreciates the opportunity to serve the Governor and to offer our perspectives on the future of Alabama Medicaid."

The Alabama Senate Tuesday is expected to debate the General Fund budget, which includes more than $600 million for Medicaid, but that is almost $100 million short of what experts say is needed to fully fund the program. 

The full report of the Alabama Medicaid Advisory Commission can be accessed online at: http://www.medicaid.alabama.gov/CONTENT/2.0_newsroom/2.2.1_Med_Adv_Commission.aspx.  Select the "Final Report" option.

INFORMATION SOURCE: Alabama Governor's Press Office

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