Gov. McCrory’s Medicaid plan should prevail

June 5, 2014 

Gov. Pat McCrory defended his Medicaid reform plan Wednesday before a backdrop of doctors clad in white lab coats. The doctors’ presence was a symbol of progress by the governor. In this case, at least, he’s following the advice of people who know what needs to be done.

“What I’m trying to do with both education and medicine is get the input from people who are actually practicing education and practicing medicine,” he said.

This shouldn’t be a revolutionary statement, but for McCrory, who has often been a rubber stamp for the General Assembly’s ill-informed ideas, it was.

Unfortunately, the concept of listening to people with experience and expertise hasn’t made similar progress in the Legislative Building. The state Senate’s proposed budget would transfer the state’s $13 billion Medicaid program out of the Department of Health and Human Services. Presumably, the program would then be carried out by private managed care organizations, an approach that has had poor results in other states. Managed care organizations are driven to produce higher profits by denying services and spending less.

McCrory’s plan, developed over months of consultations with North Carolina providers, would make quality care its first goal, but it would also produce savings through preventative care and more efficient delivery of medical services.

McCrory’s plan would replace the cost-inflating, fee-for-service approach now in use and instead pay providers for making people well and keeping them from getting sick.

The foundation for this approach is already in place through North Carolina’s nonprofit Community Care program. Now it needs to be refined and expanded.

The governor has done well to listen to doctors about improving Medicaid. Now let’s hope he can get the General Assembly to listen to him.

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