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Aldona Wos on Medicaid reform

Winston Salem Journal

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Over the past several weeks, our state Medicaid director and I have been traveling across the state to meet with doctors, hospital leaders, behavioral-health providers, advocates and families about our vision for reforming our state’s Medicaid system. Our goal for traveling outside of Raleigh to meet with stakeholders was to get feedback and input and to learn from those with a vested interest in our state’s health-care system, not just to give speeches and deliver talking points about our “Partnership for a Healthy North Carolina.”

So what have we learned after traveling the state? First of all, we have learned that de-spite what has been portrayed in the media, people are supporting Gov. Pat McCrory’s vision for Medicaid reform in North Carolina. Carol Steckel and I have heard from count-less families who are struggling with the silos of care created by our current Medicaid system, bouncing from medical doctor to mental-health provider and then to social ser-vices. We have also talked to doctors, providers and hospital administrators who are struggling with the bureaucracy of a Medicaid system that is throwing up barriers to cre-ating a healthier North Carolina. No matter where we travel, there is a clear understanding across the state that the current system is unsustainable – and the worst thing we could do is to do nothing at all.

In order to remove these barriers to improving the quality of care and health outcomes, there is widespread agreement that we must focus our collective efforts on (1) creating a Medicaid system that cares for the whole person – mental, physical and dental – and pro-vides services based on an individual’s needs; (2) bending the cost curve to create a Med-icaid program that is predictable and sustainable for North Carolina taxpayers; and (3) increasing administrative ease and efficiency for North Carolina Medicaid providers to help them focus on delivering care, not filling out paperwork.

During our travels, we have been able to discover first-hand examples of strong commu-nity initiatives that provide more comprehensive and coordinated care for our state’s most vulnerable. These wonderfully innovative programs are already working toward some of the same goals the governor and I have put forward in the “Partnership for a Healthy North Carolina.” From improvements in hospital IT systems that are creating administra-tive efficiencies in the Piedmont, to tele-health programs that are bringing much needed psychiatric services to underserved areas in the east, to integrated care providers who are successfully managing patient care with limited dollars in the west, we are seeing pockets of creative programs, coalitions and groups forming across our state to achieve lower costs, improve access and improve the quality of care and health outcomes.

In fact, the more we travel the state and get feedback from those outside of the “Raleigh” bubble, the more encouraged I am about North Carolina’s health-care community rising to the challenge and being a part of the health-care solution. Our hope is that throughout this reform process, more people in our health-care community come forward with ideas and initiatives in line with the governor’s vision for reform – treating the whole person in a predictable and sustainable model while at the same time making it easier for doctors and health-care providers to render high-quality, patient-centered care.

We must continue to be a state that moves the health-care agenda forward.

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