Healthcare Business News
Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire

White House pushes Medicaid data-sharing

By Rich Daly
Posted: May 11, 2011 - 2:30 pm ET

The Obama administration pushed back on a growing drive by Republican governors and members of Congress for increased Medicaid flexibility for states with an initiative that senior officials claimed Wednesday could both save money and improve care.

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The highlight of the initiative (PDF) is an effort to speed the transfer of Medicare data for patients eligible for coverage under both that program and Medicaid to state Medicaid offices so they can better coordinate such patients' care.

Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire said her state has already used that type of patient data for many beneficiaries in its Medicaid program to slow the program's growth in recent years. The accelerated federal data-sharing initiative, she said, will increase Washington's care coordination among dual-eligible beneficiaries, who constitute 15% of Medicaid's national patient population and nearly 40% of its costs.

“With this data I know we will be able to offer better care and significantly drive down costs,” Gregoire, a Democrat, said in a conference call on the federal Medicaid initiative.

The change is expected to provide Medicare beneficiary data from as recently as two weeks earlier to state Medicaid programs, according to an official at HHS. The initiative will significantly reduce the current wait for such data, which now can take over a year to obtain.

Federal officials Wednesday also touted a related push (PDF) for the public's ideas about ways to improve Medicare-Medicaid interactions in six areas: care coordination, fee-for-service benefits, prescription drugs, cost-sharing, enrollment and appeals.

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