Medicaid is referred to as the Pac Man of the budget by Utah State Senator Dan Liljenquist, R-District 23, who is spearheading an effort to enact Medicaid reforms during the 2011 session. On KVNU’s For the People program Thursday, Liljenquist said the growth of Medicaid tripled over the last decade and if something isn’t done taxes will have to be increased dramatically in order to pay the cost. Instead, he says, reforms should be enacted especially in how providers are paid. Liljenquist says right now a procedure is done, Medicaid pays for the procedure, and often there is an over-utilization of the system. “We would like to take the dollars we have for individuals enrolled in Medicaid and send them to our providers,” Liljenquist explained. “We want to send them to what are called Accountable Care Organizations, act less like insurance providers but are actually health care providers, and say, ‘here’s how much money we have and we want you to take care of these populations.’ “Now we’re setting in the legislation some expectations of quality. We expect the same level of quality or better on health outcomes.” Liljenquist says those outcomes could be achieved at the lowest cost. He says in his opinion the state would start providing more appropriate care which, right now, there is no incentive to do.
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