States seeking to ease the burden of Medicaid funding are taking a long look at managed care. Some, such as Illinois, Hawaii and Oregon, are adopting ambitious Medicaid reform laws. But if recent experience in California is any indication, other states should tread carefully.
Medicaid enrollees in each of 13 targeted counties will be offered a choice of two approved plans. The first will be a local-initiative HMO composed of clinics, hospitals and other "safety net" providers. The second will be a selected commercial HMO.
But implementation has been pushed back to December 1995 from the original target of April 1995. Lack of adequate information systems is the main reason for the slowdown. At present, some traditional Medicaid providers lack a system to track data for the managed-care program.
Medicaid is choking state budgets, and managed care offers hope. But without consensus, teamwork and information, the approach is doomed to deliver less than promised.