Op-Ed: N.H.’s move to managed-care Medicaid system will save tax dollars

By Rep. John Reagan

As presidential hopefuls make their way through New Hampshire, we will hear a lot of talk about “fiscal responsibility.” While each candidate will have their own version of what that means, most will agree that tough decisions often accompany it, particularly when revenues fall short of expenses.

Our state Legislature recently had to face several of those tough decisions when we passed a state budget package last June. To balance the budget, we elected to cut spending by more than 18 percent. Included in that plan was the establishment of a managed-care system for the state’s Medicaid population, a move that will save the state considerable tax dollars.

As chairman of the House Committee on Health, Human Services & Elderly Affairs, I strongly supported the move to a managed-care system. I believe it can be a win-win for the state’s taxpayers and for Medicaid patients.

Some voters have expressed concern about privatizing Medicaid in New Hampshire, and transferring taxpayer dollars from government-run health care to private insurance companies. I share the objection to the idea of lining the pockets of industry executives with our hard-earned state dollars. However, managed care done right, including appropriate limits and accountabilities, has been proven in other states to cut health care costs and improve health outcomes.

Managed-care bidders should have a history of transparency and innovation, a record of collaboration and provider satisfaction, and demonstrated positive health care outcomes. Most importantly, they must share our value of fiscal accountability and be responsible stewards of state dollars.

Like many businesses, the state of New Hampshire is looking for smarter ways to manage our budget. By partnering with the right health plans — plans that emphasize cost containment and quality outcomes instead of shareholder value and executive compensation — New Hampshire will be well positioned to quickly implement a managed-care system that cuts costs, improves health outcomes, and increases access to high-quality health care for our state’s Medicaid population.

That is the kind of “fiscal responsibility” any presidential candidate would endorse.

Rep. John Reagan, R-Deerfield, is chairman of the House Health, Human Services & Elderly Affairs committee.