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Medicaid Reform Proposal to be Implemented

Location: Charleston, SC

Medicaid Reform Proposal to be Implemented


Gov. Mark Sanford today announced that the budget reconciliation bill passed yesterday by the U.S. Congress will allow South Carolina to implement his Medicaid reform proposal, South Carolina Healthy Connections. Gov. Sanford has asked that the S.C. Department of Health and Human Services move forward with implementing the majority of the plan, which could be in place as early as January, 2007. The budget reconciliation bill contains much of the Medicaid reform language that Gov. Sanford advocated during testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in March, 2005. The plan is based upon empowering Medicaid recipients with more control over their own health care and giving beneficiaries a choice of plans or medical home networks that best fit their needs -- moving Medicaid away from the current "one size fits all" model.

The budget reconciliation bill also contained a provision to allow ten states to implement South Carolina's proposal to start a health savings account pilot program for Medicaid recipients. Gov. Sanford said South Carolina will seek approval to become one of those states.

"We're obviously very pleased that Congress has decided to adopt much of our approach to Medicaid reform in this bill, and I want to thank our state's delegation for their support," Gov. Sanford said. "We've said from day one that given the remarkably different health care needs of individuals, we think it makes sense to give people a choice in their healthcare plans. In a system where Medicaid patients visit the emergency room 66 percent more often than other South Carolinians, coupled with a program that's on pace to consume almost a third of the state's budget in coming years, it's clear real reform is needed to make sure this program grows at a sustainable rate so that people get the care they need."

U.S. Senators Jim DeMint and Lindsey Graham and U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett applauded the passage of the reconciliation bill and its implications for improving healthcare outcomes in South Carolina.

"Health savings accounts are powerful tools that put patients in charge and allow them get the care they really need. I applaud Governor Sanford for his leadership on this issue in South Carolina. This is the right model for health care and I hope it grows in our state and across the country," Sen. Jim DeMint said.

"Mark's leadership in trying to reign in uncontrolled Medicaid growth, by creating competition and allowing choice among Medicaid patients is finally being duplicated in Washington. The reforms he helped push will improve the quality of health care for Medicaid recipients. It will also slow the growth of Medicaid spending which is consuming more and more of our federal and state budgets. South Carolinians should be proud some of the Governor's reform proposals are being adopted at the national level. He helped play a part in leading the way to a better health care system for those on Medicaid," Sen. Graham said.

"We should always try and give states more flexibility to provide healthcare to their citizens, rather than mandating healthcare policy from Washington. This provision in the reconciliation bill will give South Carolina a chance to do that, and to become a national leader in Medicaid reform that works," said Congressman Gresham Barrett.

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