Some were skeptical of the for-profit approach for Alabama. Meridian Health Plan, a physician-owned Medicaid HMO operating in five states, advised the commission that managed care "is not a winning proposition for Alabama at this time." The organization examined financial margins to see if money could be made and concluded that only the pharmacy sector would realize savings if managed care is implemented.
"The margins in Alabama are very, very thin and some companies will feel they cannot make money here," said Sen. Greg Reed in discussing the Senate version of the bill he's sponsoring. "The bill allows for people in the regions to come together to be the regional care organization. Perhaps doctors and others would want to become the corporate entities in their regions because they are most familiar with their own patients and their needs."
"The whole idea is for us to make a framework that is flexible, that allows the Medicaid Agency to make health care delivery systems that are effective and efficient," he continued.
When Gov. Bentley, who is also a physician, announced the bill, he recalled that nearly 50 percent of his Medicaid patients would miss appointments, many due to lack of transportation. He hopes the final bill will address that problem.
Under the proposal, all recipients would be moved to the managed care platform by 2017.