Delaware pilot program to bypass insurance companies

In an effort to save costs on medical expenses, some Delaware lawmakers want to contract for services directly with doctors and other providers, instead of using insurance companies.

The proposed pilot program provides basic health coverage for Medicaid patients in Sussex County for two years.  State Senator Harris McDowell (D-Wilmington North) says the goal is to reign in the rapid growth in the cost of healthcare. The pilot program is targeted in Sussex because proponents say they already have the support of doctors and hospitals there. 

Supporters of the plan say it would trim $29 million from the state’s Medicaid expenses.  “These are not small things, they’re’ substantial,” says McDowell of the savings potential.  “They’re the kind of use of innovation that we really, really need to do if we’re going to be as efficient in delivery of services to our citizens as we can be.”

The plan would cost $150 per person per month.  Those residents enrolled in the plan would still get traditional insurance for things like hospital or nursing home stays.

McDowell, who co-chairs the Joint Finance Committee, says the idea will be considered for inclusion in this year’s budget debate.  “We’re going to be faced with looking at more austerity, and here is a possibility that in the first pilot, we can save $29 million dollars.” 

Statewide more than 200,000 people take part in the Medicaid program at a cost of about $1.5 billion.

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