Contents tagged with Jim Rickards
By Jim Rickards, MD, MBA
Back in 2011, the state of Oregon was facing a massive budget deficit, primarily driven by rising Medicaid costs. Medicaid is government-supported health insurance for economically disadvantaged individuals earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. About 25 percent of Oregon’s population, nearly 1 million individuals, are currently enrolled in Medicaid. This is a similar percentage to what is seen nationally. Not only did the deficit substantially impact the state’s overall budget for health care funding, but the potential impact on the lives of many Oregonians also weighed heavy on the medical community.
Typically, when states try to manage deficits related to Medicaid, they employ a combination of three strategies. For one, they will decrease reimbursement rates to hospitals and providers. This does not work very well because, ultimately, clinics will need to limit the number of Medicaid members they see since they are not financially viable, in turn creating access issues for patients. Second, the number and types of covered services can be restricted by the state. In Oregon, we had already employed the Prioritized List of Health Services for more than 20 years, which served as an evidence-based approach to prioritizing and limiting the availability of health care services. Limiting what was already on the list would not have been possible without denying many essential services. Finally, a state can decrease the number of individuals enrolled in Medicaid. This was not an option either, as Oregon was going to be an expansion state under the Affordable Care Act and would see its Medicaid population grow from 600,000 to a little over 1 million members within just a short time.more