Healthier, Happier Patients and a National Model to Cure State Medicaid Crises
NAPLES – Florida’s five-county Medicaid Reform Pilot, passed in 2006, sought to give Medicaid patients greater freedom and control over their health care than the traditional government-designed system allows. Today, as other states struggle with a Medicaid crisis, Florida’s Reform Pilot is a decided cure.
A report published by the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) and the Heritage Foundation shows that through its Reform Pilot—now serving 290,000 patients in Baker, Broward, Clay, Duval and Nassau Counties—Florida improved Medicaid patient health and satisfaction, and saved taxpayers significant sums.
The 22-page report authored by FGA President and Chief Executive Officer Tarren Bragdon, Florida’s Medicaid Reform Shows the Way to Improve Health, Increase Satisfaction, and Control Costs, compares Florida’s Medicaid Reform Pilot to traditional Medicaid and commercial HMOs in several areas, including patient choice, health outcomes, patient satisfaction and taxpayer costs.
“Transforming Medicaid empowers patients with control over their health future. When the patient is the priority, government and HMO bureaucrats are finally held accountable. Costs flatten and patient health and satisfaction improves,” Bragdon said.
Unlike traditional Medicaid, with one government-designed plan for all enrollees, Reform Pilot patients can choose among 2, 3 and 11 plans, depending on their county, to find a plan to best meet their unique health needs. Reform Pilot plans also feature 7 additional services, such as additional hearing and dental benefits, over-the-counter drugs, nutrition therapy and in-home respite care.
Patient health outcomes and patient satisfaction are also greater compared to enrollees confined to traditional Medicaid.
On a national indicator of health outcomes, Reform Pilot counties outperformed non–Reform Pilot counties in 64 percent of measures and exceeded the national average in 53 percent. For Reform Pilot health maintenance organization (HMO) plans, 83 percent of satisfaction measures met or exceeded the national Medicaid benchmark and national commercial plan benchmarks.
“Medicaid patients are similar to anyone else. Their plan options should reflect their individual needs and situations,” Bragdon explained. “Florida’s Pilot achieves this compassionate, patient-centered reform and our Medicaid patients are healthier and happier as a result. The Reform Pilot makes the patient the priority.”
Along with patient health and satisfaction, taxpayer savings have grown as well. With patients managing more of their own health decisions, the Reform Pilot has already achieved an estimated $118 million in annual savings. If the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services permit a planned statewide expansion, taxpayers could save up to $901 million annually.
The FGA report also highlights Florida’s Medicaid Reform Pilot as a national model for other states seeking patient-centered health reform. If the Reform Pilot experience were replicated nationwide, combined annual Medicaid savings would reach up to $28.6 billion annually.
“Florida’s Medicaid Reform Pilot is patient-centered care at its best. The Pilot has accomplished the most important goals of health reform—healthier, happier patients at a lower cost,” Bragdon said. “As other states look to Florida for a cure for their own Medicaid crises, the federal government should recognize the positive outcomes the Pilot has achieved and allow Florida to implement this reform statewide.”