Primary care: a treatment for Maine's Medicaid budget shortfall?

7:41 PM, Dec 4, 2012   |    comments
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AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- With another fiscal year comes another budget shortfall for Maine's Medicaid program, also known as Maine Care.

According to Mary Mayhew, the Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services, spending has become difficult to predict, as the program's neediest patients cost the state more and more money.

"Twenty percent of our members account for 87 percent of our spending," said Mayhew an interview last week.

"There's no doubt that for those who are consuming the vast majority of the resources in the Medicaid Program, that their spend is increasing," she said.

Although he hasn't studied the state's budget, Dr. Jeffrey Brenner of the New Jersey-based Camden Coalition said he thinks Maine is on the "cutting edge" of reducing health-care costs with a new program called the Community Care Team Providers.

Maine's CCT and Dr. Brenner's Camden Coalition have a similar model: identify the most expensive patients in the system and connect them with the best primary care resources with the goal of creating fewer trips to the hospital, thereby reducing healthcare costs for the state.

In a presenation to CCT members in Augusta, Dr. Brenner said Maine has a "front row seat" to observe the effects of rising health care costs.

Maine has the oldest population, and has some of the highest health care costs.

Maine's CCT program is just nine months old, and is still a "pilot program," but leaders are optimistic their work can improve the cost and quality of health care, especially for Maine's neediest patients.


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