Medicaid health plans applaud deficit commission proposal

The trade association representing Medicaid managed care plans is applauding the draft proposal from the president's deficit commission, a sharp break with other industry groups that have mostly lamented the proposed cuts to their slice of the pie. 

The commission's preliminary recommendations, released last week, contains "illustrative health care savings" including $11 billion in savings by placing people who are eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare into Medicaid managed care plans. The 8 million "dual eligible" beneficiaries who are on both programs — basically low-income seniors — have their care split between Medicare, responsible for their hospital and physician benefits, and Medicaid, responsible for long-term care benefits.

Less than 10 percent of dual-eligible spending is covered under coordinated care arrangements, and moving more seniors into coordinated-care settings is seen as a clear money-saver.

"As advocates for health plans that serve our nation’s most vulnerable populations, we realize the importance of controlling present deficit spending in order to ensure future access to high-quality care for everyone in our country," association President and CEO Thomas Johnson said in a statement. "We believe Medicaid health plans are part of the solution because the coordinated care provided by health plans achieves substantial savings."