State officials are creating two task forces to gather input on a consulting firm’s report on the future of Georgia’s Medicaid and PeachCare programs....

State officials are creating two task forces to gather input on a consulting firm’s report on the future of Georgia’s Medicaid and PeachCare programs.

One task force will involve medical provider groups, including representatives of hospital and physician organizations. The second grouping will review the Navigant report’s recommendation to revamp services for the ‘‘aged, blind and disabled’’ populations.

The advisory task forces will meet separately next week, Jerry Dubberly, state Medicaid director, told Georgia Health News after a legislative budget hearing Tuesday.

The state currently operates a managed care system for all PeachCare and most Medicaid members. Patients with disabilities or in long-term care are currently in traditional payment systems.

The Navigant report, commissioned by the state and released late last month, calls for Georgia to consider adopting an enhanced managed care system that would cover aged, blind and disabled Medicaid beneficiaries. That proposal has prompted concerns among consumer advocacy groups.

Dubberly said the task force process would be open to proposals on Medicaid that are not included in the Navigant report.

Navigant will facilitate the meetings of the task forces, and officials from the state’s Medicaid agency, the Department of Community Health (DCH), will be present, Dubberly said.

“The input of this task force will be utilized by DCH leadership to make a final decision on the recommended option for the Medicaid and [PeachCare] redesign,’’ according to state materials on the task forces.

The group focusing on seniors and people with disabilities includes representatives of the hospital, nursing home and hospice industries as well as consumer advocacy groups.

One task force member, Ellyn Jeager of the advocacy group Mental Health America of Georgia, said Tuesday that she is confused about how the Medicaid redesign process will work.

But she added, “We have to go in with an open mind. We have to assume they’re really interested in what we’re going to say.’’

Another member, Kathy Floyd of AARP Georgia, said managed care, if done right, can be successful. “The key is to manage care well, not just focus on saving money,’’ she said.

And invitee Jon Howell, president of the Georgia Health Care Association, which represents nursing homes, said, “It is important to make sure the state’s elderly, disabled and infirm populations have  their voices heard.  I applaud DCH for their inclusiveness and I look forward to working towards a common goal of a healthier and more efficient Georgia.”

Several states are implementing major changes in their Medicaid programs, with most putting more managed care into services they provide for low-income and disabled residents.

Georgia officials have identified three goals in their effort to improve the state’s Medicaid program –- to enhance appropriate use of medical services by members; to achieve long-term savings; and to improve health outcomes for patients.

The Navigant report recommends that the state look at three options that would be most likely to achieve those goals.

Community Health hopes to settle on a redesign model for the Georgia program in April, and then start a contract procurement process in the summer. The changes would be launched in January 2014.

Georgia’s Medicaid and PeachCare programs cover about 1.7 million Georgians and have a budget that exceeds $7 billion, most of it federal money.


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Andy Miller

Andy Miller is editor and CEO of Georgia Health News

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