NEBRASKA'S NEW MEDICAID GOT OFF TO A ROCKY START BUT STATE SAYS GROWING PAINS ARE HEALING

Nebraska’s new Medicaid system, Heritage Health, was launched on January 1st. Under the new program Nebraska contracts with private companies to manage and pay for Medicaid services. Courtney Phillips, the CEO of the Department of Health and Human Services, said that despite some challenges the program has been a success. However unpaid claims and a shaky authorization process have left health care providers upset and patients untreated. Marry Walsh-Sterup, an occupational therapist, said of the program “It’s been a disaster, no doubt about it.” Problems with the contracted companies have escalated multiple times to the point where HHS had to institute punishments on them by imposing financial sanctions, requiring corrective plans, and issuing written warnings. Under this new system 3 private companies - United Healthcare Community Plan, Nebraska Total care, and WellCare of Nebraska – are paid flat rates per a person by the state, like an insurance premium, the company then has responsibility to cover that person’s medical costs.