Friday, April 1, 2016

The Implications of the Mega-Reg on the Medicaid Managed Care Industry: 2016 & Beyond

Healthcare word cloud featuring Managed Care, Healthcare Policy, Insurance
2016 is a year of transformation for the healthcare ecosystem - over the past year we’ve seen the implementation of major ACA provisions, delivery system reforms, payment reforms, and states pursuing better value. There’s been a recent shift away from taking a budget-driven approach, and is now driven by the desire to improve quality and outcomes. The implications will be huge and will go beyond Medicaid. 

We’ve had a short Q/A with Jennifer Babcock, Vice President for Medicaid Policy and Director of Strategic Operations, Association for Community Affiliated Plans (ACAP), who will also be chairing and presenting at the Medicaid Managed Care Congress in May. 

What upcoming major trends are you excited about? 

Medicaid is undeniably undergoing a great deal of change right now, and there are many advancing trends keeping all Medicaid policy analysts on our toes. One of the most exciting, from my perspective, is efforts by Medicaid health plans to impact social determinants of health and to integrate within the health plan help for people to get jobs, housing, nutritional support, even support as they leave the criminal justice system. A substantial number of ACAP member plans are doing important work in these areas, as described in a fact sheet we produced in 2014. Efforts by health plans to impact social determinants underscore that 
our collective goal is to improve the health and well-being of people covered in Medicaid.

Secondly, I’m excited to learn about efforts by plans, states, and providers to look at improving quality of health at the population level. Again, these efforts offer a great opportunity to
improve the health of the entire nation, given how expansive a coverage program Medicaid is. 

What do you think will be the major implications of the Mega-Reg? 

If finalized the way we at ACAP hope, the Mega Reg will erase any lingering questions about the crucial role MCOs play in Medicaid, leading the way to greater emphasis on the partnership between states and plans. I hope, for example, that CMS will require transparency between states and plans in general, and in particular with regard to the rate-setting process to ensure that all rates are set and approved in a timely and comprehensible manner. Also, I would like to see CMS move toward payment and coverage models that use MCOs to promote population health. Lastly, I would like to see movement toward standardized quality measurement that allows us to learn what Medicaid pays for, not just in MMC, but FFS as well.

Do you have any best practices of success stories you’d like to share? 

My colleagues at ACAP worked with a subset of ACAP plans last year on a substance use disorder collaborative, which resulted in this toolkit, which is available publicly for other health plans to use. This toolkit provides best practices for plans working with individuals impacted with SUD, including opioid addiction. It’s an example of how effectively and quickly Medicaid MCOs can respond to a significant population health problem. We are very proud of these plans’ efforts. 

For MMCC, what do you hope to learn more about? 

I am looking forward to hearing from the real experts about quality in Medicaid managed care and Medicaid. I am anxious to gain insights about how best to coordinate and standardize the myriad quality measurement and reporting efforts so that we can get on with the business of using results to improve care for people, and to improve Medicaid overall, and CHIP as well. While it’s fascinating to see the efforts many states are making to report on the adult and pediatric core measures sets (the CMS 2015 Annual Report on the Quality of Care for Adults in Medicaid and 2015 Annual Report on the Quality of Care for Children in Medicaid and CHIP were released in February of this year), I feel strongly that we all can do more to ensure that quality of care for Medicaid and CHIP enrollees is measured, reported, and improved.

Learn about the implications of the new regulations and beyond by joining the Medicaid Managed Care Congress (MMCC) in Baltimore, MD (May 18-20, 2016.) For more information about MMCC 2016 visit the website here.

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