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LETTERS / Strengthen Medicaid, Don’t Replace It

Published Monday, April 29, 2013 at 4:09 pm

Dear Editor,

Governor McCrory recently announced plans to privatize our state’s Medicaid system, turning the system over to out-of-state companies.  We oppose this idea and strongly recommend that the governor and legislature look to build on the strengths of our current Medicaid program and improve on what is already working.

Medicaid is a program set up to provide health care to some of our state’s most needy citizens, specifically taking care of the elderly, the disabled and children.  The North Carolina Medicaid system has been a model for other states to follow.  Our state has one of the highest participation rates in the country from primary care providers.  Data from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that costs of North Carolina’s Medicaid program has grown at the slowest rate of any state in the country.

One of the strongest and innovative parts of the North Carolina system is Community Care of North Carolina (CCNC).  Created in 1998, CCNC is our state’s own homegrown managed care system that links together local non-profit networks of physicians and other medical providers.  Within each network, patients are linked to a primary care provider to serve as a medical home that provides acute and preventive care, manages chronic illnesses, coordinates specialty care, and provides 24/7 on-call assistance.  Case managers assist in helping with the most at-risk patients.  This model has led to documented improved quality of care across different age groups and for different medical problems.  Patients are more likely to get preventive care, treat their chronic illnesses and stay out of the emergency room.  This has led to tremendous cost savings seen in an independent review by Milliman, Inc which showed CCNC helped save the state nearly a billion dollars from 2007-2010.  As evidenced by winning national recognition, CCNC has been a huge success that has been physician-directed, patient-centered and data-driven.  Not only does CCNC improve outcomes and save money, it keeps money in our state, especially in our rural communities, that helps drive local job creation. 

North Carolina tried the managed care model in Mecklenburg County around the time that CCNC was created.  The private model ended because it became clear that the local, physician-led medical home model was more effective and more efficient.  Other states have already tried handing their Medicaid system over to out-of-state medical care organizations and have found increasing costs and falling participation rates from primary care doctors. 

While we recognize that the current Medicaid system has room to improve, we strongly disagree with eliminating it and replacing it with an unproven system of management by managed care companies.  Instead, we look forward to working with the governor and the legislature to build on the strengths of Community Care of North Carolina to improve quality and control costs to the state.  Please contact the Governor (919 733-5811) as well our representatives, Dan Soucek (919 733-5742) and Jonathan Jordan (919 733-7727).  Urge them to strengthen Medicaid and NOT replace it. 

Dr. Greg Adams, MD

Dr.  Bobby Lonas, MD

Dr.  Chip Monroe, MD

Dr.  Scott St. Clair, MD

Dr. Clint Zimmerman, MD

Blue Ridge Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine

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