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Medicaid at 50: Evolving to Improve Health, Lower Costs

July 16, 2015 at 2:00 PM

While researching our paper on state Medicaid innovations that improve health while cutting unnecessary spending, we were surprised at how many states are using their flexibility under Medicaid to adopt positive changes rather than punitive, ineffective ones like co-payments, premiums, and work requirements.  And the examples continue to grow.

States are implementing initiatives that reduce unnecessary emergency room use, improve care for people with chronic conditions, and help people find and maintain work.  Our paper and post give some examples, and the current issue of Health Affairs — dedicated to Medicaid’s evolving delivery systems — provides others, including:

  • MetroHealth Care Plus, an Ohio Medicaid initiative that enrolls beneficiaries in medical homes to coordinate their health care, has significantly improved health among enrollees with diabetes.
  • Another Medicaid initiative in Orange County, California showed that connecting beneficiaries to a consistent source of primary care reduced hospitalizations and emergency room visits.

More is on the horizon.  New guidance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services explains how Medicaid can help people with disabilities, older adults needing long-term services and supports, and chronically homeless people stay out of institutions by finding and keeping housing in the community.

In short, Medicaid — which has changed a lot over the past 50 years — continues to evolve.

As Medicaid turns 50, learn more about how it improves access to health care, its long-term benefits, and why states should expand Medicaid: www.cbpp.org/medicaid-at-50

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