NASHVILLE - Louisiana is expected to decide by September whether it will keep the five Medicaid managed care companies currently managing the care of 1.6 million recipients or adjust the group, state health secretary Dr. Rebekah Gee said Thursday.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Modern Healthcare Women Leaders in Healthcare Conference here, Gee said Louisiana's 18-month-old Medicaid expansion has allowed 437,000 newly insured to get care that they often hesitated to get previously.
The state now has 1.6 million enrolled in Medicaid, resulting in a spike in preventative and early treatment since the expansion, Gee said.
During the concluding keynote presentation of the two-day conference, Gee said 110,000 of the newly insured under Medicaid received preventative care in the past year and more than 27,000 received outpatient mental health services.
Of the newly insured, another 18,000 received breast cancer screenings and 12,000 colon screening.
Gee made her remarks to the 300 conference attendees as Congress debates whether to scrap and replace an Affordable Care Act that authorized the Medicaid expansion. Some 32 states expanded Medicaid under the ACA.
Louisiana has a three-year Medicaid contract with the potential for a one or two-year extension, Gee said. Louisiana marked its first year of expansion in January.
She said in the course of putting together a contract extension, the state is looking at its Medicaid managed-care companies to determine whether it will modify the five participants.
The five companies are Aetna Better Health of Louisiana; Amerigroup Louisiana; AmeriHealth Caritas of Louisiana; Louisiana Healthcare Connections and UnitedHealthcare of Louisiana.
A decision is due by September when a joint legislative committee will meet to review the effort, she said.
Though more Medicaid recipients are getting preventative care, the state needs to continue encouraging them and their managed care companies to get check-ups, Gee said.
She called the 110,000 preventative visits "pretty good" but not yet satisfactory.
Louisiana's Medicaid expansion, like in other expansion states, also caused an initial increase in emergency room visits by the newly insured still not used to seeking care in a doctor's office.
But those numbers are starting to decline as education efforts continue, she said.
An edited version of this story can also be found in Modern Healthcare's July 24 print edition.