State Politics

Medicaid budget anticipates patient management change

Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget proposal provides money to support a plan that he couldn’t get through the legislature last year – one that would change how patient care is managed under Medicaid, the government insurance program for poor children, some of their parents, the elderly and the disabled.

Medicaid covers 18 percent of the state’s population, or about 1.8 million people. The proposed budget includes an additional $287.5 million for Medicaid growth that includes an expected enrollment increase of 4.6 percent.

Proposed state spending on Medicaid would grow to about $3.8 billion from $3.7 billion this year.

McCrory wants North Carolina doctors and hospitals to band together to help manage Medicaid patient care. His budget adds $1.2 million to Medicaid administration to oversee and monitor results in that shift.

The budget also includes $50 million to hold in reserve in case Medicaid costs are higher than anticipated.

The budget also proposes some added community-based mental health services, suggesting that money from the sale of Dorothea Dix Hospital property could be used to help pay for them.

Nearly 25 percent of the state budget goes to the state Department of Health and Human Services, said state Budget Director Lee Roberts, and of that, 86 percent goes to Medicaid and mental health.

KEY STAT: A 3 percent increase for Medicaid to $3.8 billion.

THE BACKGROUND: Medicaid is one of the most fought-about items in the state budget. Legislators are always looking for ways to control costs. McCrory and the legislature have not agreed on how patient health care should be managed.

HOW LIKELY? It would be a surprise if McCrory gets all he wants. Expect significant compromises.

Bonner: 919-829-4821;

Twitter: @Lynn_Bonner

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