Maybe Illinois, Gov. Pat Quinn and the legislature could learn something from this creative approach to cutting money spent on Medicaid while keeping people happy and focusing on more productive approaches.
But for Wisconsin, passing a budget with such drastic cuts to Medicaid was just the beginning for state health officials, advocates and the state's 30,000 health care providers. [Gov.] Doyle and the Legislature devised a novel approach: They gave agency officials a dollar amount to cut, but ceded authority over how to reach that figure. They didn't even require final legislative or gubernatorial approval to enact the changes.What followed was an extraordinary six-month-long process, one that not only found the necessary savings but also increased coverage and implemented important reforms at the same time. Insurance companies and providers met with academics and advocates. State health officials refereed the discussions, with Medicaid Director Jason Helgerson and his staff ultimately responsible for sorting through hundreds of ideas aimed at reducing costs and improving health outcomes. The Wisconsin Medicaid Rate Reform Project, as it came to be known, was in motion.
And here comes the amazing part:
By the time the work was done, the outlook for Wisconsin's Medicaid program didn't just include reduced spending. It also included an expansion of coverage for 41,000 childless adults, thanks to a new tax on hospitals separately enacted by the Legislature, as well as some federal dollars that came along with that tax....What is perhaps most surprising about the outcome of Wisconsin's Medicaid cuts has been the response from patients, advocates and stakeholders. Despite the fact that hundreds of millions of dollars were cut from the program -- a process that has spawned protests, outrage and even lawsuits elsewhere -- the reaction in Wisconsin seems largely positive.
If the people who run Illinois were intelligent, maybe....