Medicaid is a federal and state program that provides health care coverage for low-income children and their parents, pregnant women, the disabled, and the elderly.
A relatively small proportion of Medicaid patients — those with multiple or high-risk conditions — account for the lion’s share of all Medicaid spending. Finding better ways to care for these high-need, high-cost patients is essential to controlling costs and improving the quality of care for all.
Toward that end, we partnered with the Center for Health Care Strategies to create the Medicaid Learning Initiative in 2008. In 2010, we targeted interventions developed through MLI’s regional care management programs. Regional programs in Northern and Southern California, the Northwest, Hawaii, and Colorado have focused on improving care while minimizing unnecessary emergency department visits and hospitalizations.
We are constantly evaluating the outcomes of these programs and identifying the most successful strategies in order to implement them in other Kaiser Permanente regions and share them with the health care community at large.
The great expansion of Medicaid, the uncertain future of programs like CHIP, and the subsidized coverage through the exchanges will all impact our own care and coverage programs in major ways. In the meantime, these programs must continue to find ways to serve the underserved, low-income individuals who need and deserve quality health care today. That’s the hard, rewarding work we’re now engaged in.