Column: New Mexico tribes worried about state's Medicaid plan

"Some of New Mexico’s Indian tribes have been among the most vehement critics of a state proposal to overhaul Medicaid, the $3.9 billion program that finances health care for low-income children and disabled and elderly people. They argue the state would interfere with federal compacts the tribes have signed, would cost tribal health systems money, and would degrade care.

A visit to Jemez Pueblo in the red-rock canyons 55 miles northwest of Albuquerque is a good way to understand some of the tribes’ concerns.

In many ways, Jemez is running the kind of integrated, patient-centered program health policy experts envision when they talk about medical homes and accountable care, ideas that are enshrined in the federal Affordable Care Act and which are the philosophical basis of the state’s Medicaid overhaul plan known as Centennial Care. It is unclear whether health outcomes, as opposed to health care, are better because that data are still being collected.

The pueblo’s medical operation is housed in a new, well-equipped center staffed by physicians, dentists, physician assistants, nurses and other professionals. It offers everything from radiology to dental care. The center had almost 12,000 patient visits last year. Its pharmacy filled 41,000 prescriptions in 2011. Its dental clinic averages 300 patient visits per month."

Get the Story:
Winthrop Quigley: Some N.M. Tribes Fear Overhaul of Medicaid (The Albuquerque Journal 9/5)

Related Stories:
Kansas failed to consult tribes about Medicaid waiver request (08/08)
New Mexico tribes upset with consultation process for Medicaid (06/26)

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