The Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein today reiterated the urgent need to reform Medicaid in the wake of the release of America's Health Rankings from the United Health Foundation.
"The rank of 49 should be a wake-up call to everyone in the state, particularly those who are fighting to protect the status quo, because the status quo is not what our people deserve," Secretary Greenstein said. "When you really look at this data, you find that even while we've improved in many measurements, other states are making improvements faster. And what is common among both the top-ranking states and the states making the most gains? They have all aggressively implemented a coordinated care strategy in Medicaid. "
Greenstein continued: "Unfortunately, we cannot say the same. Instead, we continue to operate a faulty 1960s system that rewards volume over value and quantity over quality. We must put in place a patient-centered system that puts quality first, rewards for performance and builds sustainability into this runaway federal program. Time is of the essence. In less than a month, Mississippi, which has continually lagged behind us, will embrace the same kind of coordinated care approach to Medicaid that these other states have already adopted. Our time is now to adopt a similar reform."
Greenstein was joined today to announce Louisiana's ranking by Dr. Donnie Batie with the Louisiana Independent Physician Association. Dr. Batie, a primary care provider who has served Medicaid patients for more than 30 years, emphasized the need to move forward with Medicaid reform that creates patient-centered medical homes.
"I stand together with the secretary today to recognize that health in Louisiana isn't just a government issue, but one we are all a part of," said Dr. Batie. "We know that it will take us working together to turn these statistics around. The first step has to be embracing change. The department's proposal to repair and reform Medicaid is the critical next step we need."
America's Health Rankings released today ranked Louisiana 49th, which is two spots lower than the previous year. Still, several key indicators, both directly and indirectly related to health, improved over the past three years:
Prenatal Care: From 81.7 percent on 2008's rankings to 86.8 percent this year.
Immunization coverage: 77.7 percent of children 19-35 months on 2008 rankings to 93.2 percent this year.
Infant mortality: 10.3 per 1,000 live births on 2008 rankings to 9.5 per 1,000 live births this year.
Cancer deaths: 223.8 per capita (defined as per 100,000 residents) on 2008 rankings to 220.1 per capita this year.
Cardiovascular deaths: 349.2 per capita on 2008 rankings to 334.8 per capita this year.
Infectious Disease cases: 27.1 per capita on 2008 rankings to 23.8 per capita this year.
Children living in poverty: 22.7 percent on 2008 ranking to 19.5 percent this year.
Percent of population without health insurance: 20.2 percent on 2008 rankings to 18 percent this year.
Indicators that worsened from 2008 or 2009 include:
Prevalence of obesity
Prevalence of smoking
Poor physical and mental health days
"It is very fitting that these results are released on the same day that we begin traveling the state to talk about Medicaid reform. These indicators are about more than health financing and government policy. They are about health care improvements being a priority in every community," Greenstein said. "We also know that the right policies can have tremendous impact on outcomes. The right policy for Louisiana is developing a Medicaid system that focuses on patients and their health outcomes first. That is the very policy we are putting forth now and will be talking about as we travel the state over the next two weeks."