Former HHS Secretary Thompson Calls for Medicaid to Lead Way in Transforming U.S. Health Care

ST. LOUIS (PRNewswire) - Former U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson encouraged state leaders to
dedicate more effort to improving the health of citizens through increased
preventive care programs and said that Medicaid could play a leading role
in this health transformation.

Addressing the second Medicaid Makeover: Learning What Works summit in St. Louis, Thompson said that the focus of health care in America needs to change from treatment to prevention. "Wouldn't it be great if governors would take pride in bragging about the health of their states?" Thompson asked the audience made up of state health officials, patient advocates and elected officials. "I'd like to envision a time when governors compete to see which state can vaccinate the most number of children, or have the least number of smokers."
The former four-term governor of Wisconsin also said, "We need to manage health more than just manage care. Right now, the states don't have enough flexibility to develop innovative Medicaid programs that tackle prevention because they are weighed down by the financial burdens of treatment. This needs to change."
Thompson cited Vermont, Florida and Massachusetts as states that were taking the lead in making over Medicaid.
Medicaid, which provides medical coverage to 53 million Americans, accounts for 22 percent of all state funding, and just between 2000 and 2003 Medicaid spending increased by almost a third. These increased costs have placed an enormous burden on state treasuries and have forces many states to curtail Medicaid coverage.
In Missouri, Medicaid spending has surged from $26 million in 1968 to $5.5 billion in 2005, and the number of enrollees has climbed 37 percent between 2000 and 20005.
Dr. Q. Michael Ditmore, director of the Missouri Division of Medical Services, also saw the need for more innovation in Medicaid and the way it is administered. "Medical officials can't just write checks; they have to assure quality and seek ways to lowers costs."
Steven H. Lipstein, CEO of BJC Healthcare, said that increased health literacy can play an important role in improving people's health care. He noted that most people are unaware of their own basic medical data, such as blood pressure or blood sugar levels. He also stressed the need for programs that improve public health education.
"Medicaid Makeover is a vehicle to foster constructive debate nationwide among the various constituencies on the future of this critical program," Thompson said. "My experience in reforming welfare as governor of Wisconsin gives me the confidence that a consensus can be built that rewards innovation and provides the states more flexibility in administering Medicaid."
For instance, Medicaid may provide coverage to a woman while she is pregnant, but that same woman may not be entitled to medical care prior to her pregnancy or 60 days after the infant's delivery.
The first Medicaid Makeover was held in Atlanta on May 22. Thompson, the independent chairman of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions is expected to offer his plan based on these summits in mid July. The former secretary also said that he had been invited to address the National Governors Association on health care in August.
Judge grants request for new representation for Mark Spotz
Festival gets Serious

Leave a Reply