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Medicaid Managed Care Seems to Fall Short
Date:10/9/2007

Patients don't get same care as those in commercial managed-care plans, study says

TUESDAY, Oct. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Medicaid enrollees receive lower quality health care from managed-care programs than do managed-care patients in commercial health plans, a new study found.

This was true regardless of whether the Medicaid enrollee was participating in a Medicaid-only plan or a plan that also accepts commercial patients.

"The policy message is that to the extent that people would be hoping to say that [managed care programs] equalize quality, it has not been the case," said Dr. Bruce Landon, lead author of the study and associate professor of health care policy and medicine at Harvard Medical School. "This would suggest that we have to think of other ways that we can send more resources to Medicaid health plans."

The study is published in the Oct. 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"The findings of this important study affirm that health plan design alone cannot meet the challenge of providing quality of care to Medicaid beneficiaries," added Dr. A. Mark Fendrick, professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan School of Medicine.

"To ensure that quality benchmarks are met, the multiple stakeholders in the health delivery system must go further and identify/implement interventions that influence Medicaid beneficiaries specifically, regardless of health plan," added Fendrick, who's also a professor of health management and policy at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

Medicaid is the government-funded program that pays for health care for people who can't afford to finance their own medical expenses.

The proportion of Medicaid beneficiaries enrolling in managed care programs is increasing, unlike the commercially insured population, which is declining. Between 1994 and 2004, enrollment in Medicaid managed care tri
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