ADVERTISEMENT

February 27, 2013

2012 Press Herald file photo/Gregory Rec

Maine will receive $33 million over the next three years to expand its experiment with health care payment reform.

Our View: Federal health-care grant targets the right problem

Every once in a while, we get some good news from Washington.

That was certainly the case last week, when the LePage administration announced that Maine would be one of only six states to get a federal grant to implement new programs to lower health care costs through reforming the ways we pay for services.

Maine will receive $33 million over the next 3½ years to expand its experiment with payment reform, including accountable care organizations, group practices that receive incentives to improve their patients' health instead of simply being paid for tests and procedures.

The model is designed to lower costs and improve outcomes at the same time. That's exactly the right place for the state and federal governments to be directing their efforts.

With all the strong words and posturing from Augusta and Washington, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that both capitols are struggling with the same issue.

The shortfall in Maine's Medicaid program (known as MaineCare) reflects the overall high cost of health care throughout the nation. Market reforms in the Affordable Care Act are designed to reduce the number of people who don't have insurance by, among other things, requiring insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions. It also creates exchanges, which allow insurance companies to compete to provide coverage to consumers and businesses and which administer tax credits and subsidies to help more people buy coverage.

Covering more people will lower overall health costs by taking pressure off emergency rooms and charity care in hospitals, but it won't by itself significantly lower the cost of health care.

Payment models that encourage patients to take better care of themselves and encourage providers to take an interest in their patients' overall health are the best way to lower health care costs. And when overall health care costs decrease, the cost of government programs like Medicare and Medicaid will also go down.

There are other ways in which the state could work with the federal government under the Affordable Care Act. The most important would be expanding MaineCare to ACA standards, covering thousands of Mainers and bringing millions of federal dollars into the state's economy.

There is still time for the governor and the Legislature to do that. In the meantime, it's nice to see the state and federal governments working together on the people's problems and not just fighting each other.





Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)


  • Back to Opinion

News
Sports
Politics
Business
Life & Culture
People

© 2014 The Portland Press Herald - All Rights Reserved.
MaineToday Media
One City Center, 5th floor, Portland, ME 04101-5009
(207) 791-6650
contact@pressherald.com