At her press conference this morning announcing state efforts to “breakdown the silos” between the state’s duel eligible population for Medicaid and Medicare, Governor Gregoire said we need to move away from “Bureaucratic Centered Health Care” and instead focus our efforts on “Patient Centered Health Care.” We couldn’t agree more. In fact, that is the focus of a book written by WPC’s Health Care Analyst Dr. Roger Stark titled “The Patient-Centered Solution: Our Health Care Crisis, How It Happened, and How We Can Fix It.

What immediately struck me as I listened to the Governor at her press conference was the need for the state to be provided total flexibility to design its health care safety net with federal block grants.

Here are some of the details from the Governor’s press release today announcing the limited federal waiver:

“Gov. Chris Gregoire today announced that federal officials have given Washington state approval to move ahead with the first phase of HealthPathWashington — a voluntary Medicare-Medicaid initiative aimed initially at integrating patient centered care in health homes to some of the state’s highest-need medical assistance clients.

‘Federal approval means we can start moving ahead with implementing plans to improve care for thousands of our fellow citizens and provide savings for taxpayers at the same time,’ said Gregoire. ‘This integration gives us the ability to provide patient centered care to more than 115,000 Washingtonians who are low-income seniors and people with severe disabilities who often have difficulty accessing the care they need. HealthPathWashington is a positive change and a clear opportunity to cut avoidable costs while improving health outcomes and coordinated care.’

Medicare-Medicaid clients are known as ‘dual eligibles.’ By and large, they are also among the most vulnerable and most expensive clients in both programs. The state was selected as one of 15 states to design plans that would more effectively deliver their care and coordinate the different care programs.

HealthPathWashington will integrate services and establish ‘health homes’ to bring high-risk, high-need clients into better care and was the second state plan to win federal approval. Because the proposal will more effectively deliver care and keep its patients healthier, it also will save money for the state – projected to save nearly $14 million over five years.”

Imagine how much more could be accomplished if our state’s health care safety net was designed and run by elected officials in Olympia instead of bureaucrats in Washington D.C..


[Reprinted with permission from the Washington Policy Center blog; featured photo credit: Alex E. Proimos]