The best is enemy of the good.
The profoundest truths are paradoxical.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
NPR: Oregon's Medicaid Experiment
The belief that budget cutting
alone can restore American Greatness is magical thinking.
It is more likely that ruthless
cutting will end by cutting the nation's throat.
The appeal of "cutting"
as presumed panacea is grounded in the growing belief that Washington is
incapable of succeeding in any collective enterprise.
Only unpatriotic traitors would
invest in a government that killed bin Laden and kept GM alive.
In desperation, many Americans
believe it is better to liberate individuals who -- unimpeded by communitarian
restraint -- should seek their fortune as self-seeking monads.
According to The Received Idiocy,
once government is small enough to drown in a bathtub (to borrow anti-tax
crusader Grover Norquist's image), America will be saved -- deus ex machina --
by "The Invisible Hand of the Marketplace."
As soon as the cutting is
complete, the invisible hand -- without need of human guidance or moral
discipline -- will spontaneously harness the unleashed productivity of monadic
millions so that abundance not only trickles down but gushes forth.
The following NPR report shows
that government is capable of many good things - even great things.
To restore greatness it is first necessary for the hopeless to quick
their adolescent delight in obstructionism, choosing instead to develop social
Oregon's Medicaid Experiment Represents A 'Defining Moment'
by KRISTIAN FODEN-VENCIL, OREGON PUBLIC BROADCASTING
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber is leading a $2 billion health care experiment in the state, aimed at changing the way the sickest people in Oregon get health care. Here, he speaks during a press conference in Portland on May 4.
These simple things — and the relationship between a health coach like Vance and a chronically ill Medicaid patient like Prasad — are a big part of a $2 billion health care experiment in Oregon.
Governor John Kitzhaber, a Democrat and a former emergency room doctor, has convinced the federal government that he has a way to make Medicaid treatment better, and cheaper, by completely changing the way the sickest people in Oregon get health care.
Here's how it will work: Each city, like Portland, Salem and Eugene, will have its own umbrella group for caring for the Medicaid population, a so-called "coordinated care organization." Under these umbrellas will be most of the big hitters in the health sector: hospitals, doctors, mental health providers and dentists.
Kitzhaber's vision is that all those health care businesses will stop competing so directly and will be linked electronically so that the systems can talk to each other — and patients can go wherever they need to get the best care. The sickest people, like 69-year-old cardiac patient Prasad, will have $20-an-hour outreach workers like Vance to help them navigate the system and avoid costly hospitalizations. Workers like Vance will manage a caseload of about 30 patients — with the goal of saving the system hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"I think this is really a defining moment for health care in the state of Oregon and, I think that if we're successful, probably for health care beyond our borders," Kitzhaber said, as he was announcing the plan that enjoys surprisingly popular support from both Republicans and Democrats.
Indeed, the state's leaders are putting their political reputations on the line for this deal. The legislature passed its entire budget in the blind faith that the feds were going to come up with the money.
Unions and businesses in the state also back the program. Malia Wasson, the president of U.S. Bank in Oregon, celebrated the news. "Governor, I know that you're not prone to being overly demonstrative," she said, at the announcement that the feds were backing the state's experiment. "But would you indulge me with a high five?"
There are skeptics, though. Republican State Representative Jim Weidner was one of a few politicians to vote against it. "It doesn't really drive down the cost of health care. It's just shifting costs into different spots," Weidner said. He expects the experiment to end up costing the state money.
But Kitzhaber disagrees. The coordinated care organization will be paid with a lump sum.
Under the current system, hospitals and doctors don't have a financial incentive to make people better. Quite the opposite, if a patient keeps coming back, they keep getting paid. But under the new system, the quicker a patient gets better, the more money the coordinated care organization can keep. Kitzhaber believes that over the next five years, Oregon will be able to save the feds every penny of the $2 billion the state's been promised.
"We estimated that if every state Medicaid program in the country were to adopt this model, the net savings would be about $1.5 trillion over 10 years," he said
To put that into perspective, Congress is looking at $1.2 trillion in cuts after the super committee failed to come up with a budget.
Meanwhile, Oregon is pretty pleased with itself. But the feds have said that if the state doesn't show cuts to Medicaid spending by 2 percent next year, all this new money could very well dry up.