Kenen suggests topics for regional, local Medicaid stories

About Joanne Kenen

Contributing editor to Politico Magazine and former health care editor-at-large, Politico, Commonwealth Fund journalist in residence and assistant lecturer at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

My last blog post was on coverage of Medicaid, and we’ve just posted a tip sheet about it, pointing out that if you think the story is going in several incompatible directions simultaneously (expand, contract, blow up, salvage, reform) you are right. As it’s an undercovered but extremely important topic, I thought I’d stick with it for this post too.

What questions do you have about health reform and how to cover it?

Joanne KenenJoanne Kenen is AHCJ’s health reform topic leader. She is writing blog posts, tip sheets, articles and gathering resources to help our members cover the complex implementation of health reform. If you have questions or suggestions for future resources on the topic, please send them to joanne@healthjournalism.org.

Looking at coverage nationally, I’m still finding a lot of legislative process stories, or bits and pieces stories. I’m still on the lookout for good regional and local stories on Medicaid – I’d love to see some good ones about delivery system reform in Medicaid and, for those of you in states with Republican governors endorsing block grants, some tough questions about exactly what the state would do with all that flexibility and not all that much money. In the meantime, here are a few stories that I think shed some light on current Medicaid issues.

There were a couple of pieces about the Rhode Island “global waiver,” which has become the equivalent of a poster child for the block grants favored by Republicans – even though the savings may be far more modest than touted and the state was getting MORE money than it would have without the waiver, not less as it would under block grants. (I wish the latter point had been made higher up in Phil Marcelo’s very good story.)

• Janet Roberts, on May 15 in The New York Times: Rhode Island’s Medicaid Experiment Becomes a Talking Point for Budget Cutters

• Philip Marcelo, on May 16 in The (R.I.) Providence Journal: R.I. Medicaid agreement admired in other states

• A few earlier stories tracking developments in Rhode Island include Felice Freyer’s April 11 story in The (R.I.) Providence JournalState looking to maintain Medicaid coverage level, and, for a focused look at how hard it is to define and compare Medicaid savings even in neighboring states, see Confusion over Medicaid numbers in The (R.I.) Providence Journal by Randal Edgar and Philip Marcelo.

• In Fla. Pilot program to cut Medicaid costs raises new questions, N.C. Aizenman in The Washington Post on May 11 looks at whether 1)the cost savings are real 2)whether quality of care is being damaged.

• Phil Galewitz at Kaiser Health News writes about Florida’s proposal to charge poor people on Medicaid monthly premiums and $100 for nonurgent ER visits (some advocates point out that it could be a dangerous deterrent for people who may have symptoms like chest pains that could be a true emergency or could turn out to be less serious)

• This May 2 story – just a short really but packs in some good information in a small space – by Carrie Ghose of Columbia Business First, Feds mull ‘mystery shoppers’ to gauge Medicaid access to doctors.

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