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April 10. 2013 7:35PM

Gov. Hassan creates state Medicaid commission

CONCORD - Implementing a managed care system for state Medicaid patients is key to expanding the program under the Affordable Care Act and for the state budget, which counts on millions of dollars in savings from the program.

While the managed care system was expected to be in place more than a year ago, it stalled when hospitals refused to join the networks of the three companies hired to run the program for the state.

Ten of the state's largest hospitals sued the state over its Medicaid reimbursement rates, claiming they were set illegally and are so low the health care network for the poor, elderly and disabled cannot be maintained.

The hospitals are not the only ones concerned about the managed care program. The mental health, developmentally disabled and elderly communities have also expressed concerns.

Seeking to move the issue along, Gov. Maggie Hassan Wednesday created a commission to review the program.

The Governor's Commission on Medicaid Care Management will be comprised of people with a broad range of experience in health care issues to ensure the implementation of an efficient, fair and high-quality Medicaid care management system, she said.

"With new tools and federal funding available, New Hampshire has an opportunity to greatly strengthen our health care system. Moving forward with implementing Medicaid managed care is critical to ensuring that we are able to effectively expand Medicaid coverage and maximize our health care dollars," Hassan said. "I also recognize the concerns and challenges surrounding managed care implementation. Members of the commission will leverage their significant experience to review implementation and provide insight to ensure we are protecting both patients and health care providers."

Mary Vallier-Kaplan, former vice president of the New Hampshire Endowment for Health, will be the panel's chair and Donald Shumway, former Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner and president and CEO of Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center, will be vice-chair.

Other commission members include; Thomas Bunnell, policy consultant for NH Voices for Health;

Sue Fox, project director at the UNH Institute on Disability and a parent of a child with developmental disabilities;

Wendy Gladstone, a pediatrician at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center's Child Advocacy and Protection Program;

Yvonne Goldsberry, vice president of Population Health and Clinical Integration at Cheshire Medical Center/ Dartmouth-Hitchcock- Keene; Catherine McDowell, founder of Coos Family Health and currently running McDowell Project Management; Douglas McNutt, Associate State Director for Advocacy, AARP NH; Gustavo Moral, President of Independent Services Network; Kenneth Norton, executive director of National Alliance for the Mentally Ill New Hampshire;

And Jo Porter, deputy director of the NH Institute for Health Policy and Practice.

The commission chair will call the first meeting within 30 days.

grayno@unionleader.com


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