Alabama's Public Health Officer unveiled the new map for Medicaid recipients in the state.
The state will be divided into five regions. Each region has a different cost per Medicaid recipient, and no two regions are the same size.
"This isn't a perfect map" Dr. Don Williamson, Alabama's Public Health Officer said. "I hope that everyone is equally unhappy."
Each region, currently referred to as A, B, C, D and E, will have at least one Regional Care Organization, or RCO operating within it. The Medicaid reform law that the Alabama Legislature passed last month allows for more than one RCO to operate in a given region.
[DOCUMENT: The 5 Regions (.pdf)]
[DOCUMENT: 5 Regions' Hospital Demograpics (.pdf)]
For the current Medicaid recipients, they won't see any changes immediately. When the regions are completely established by the fall, patients will also have the ability to keep seeing doctors they've seen in the past, even they practice outside of their home region.
"If a patient in Cullman County historically sees a doctor in Jefferson County. That patient will still be able to go to the doctor in Jefferson County because the region that Cullman's in, that North Region would have to be willing to allow that doctor to be an any willing provider for that region" said Williamson.
Williamson said the most difficult region to financially manage will be Region C, the region that includes most of West Alabama, and some of the poorest counties in the state.
"The population density is smaller there," Williamson said to a group of about 75 people in a conference room at the Alabama Medicaid Agency. "It meets the actuarial qualifications. It does have one of the highest per-capita expenditures in the entire state."
Region C is by far the smallest of the five. The 61,000 Medicaid patients in West Alabama are nearly half of the 114,000 in the Mobile and Southwest Alabama region.
Overall, the state will pay about $3,300 per Medicaid patient in the state. The per-patient costs in each region vary slightly. The Medicaid Agency is expected to save roughly $150 million when the entire reform package is in place over the next few years.
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