5 Ways Basic Health Programs Benefit States

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media , May 18, 2011

Meg Murray of the Association of Community Health Plans is worried that the BHP is losing ground to insurance exchanges and that states will embrace exchanges without considering a BHP. "We're concerned that states aren't considering both options as they develop plans for serving low-income people." She adds that although states may see this as an either/or proposition "the BHP can be a bridge between the Medicaid population and an insurance exchange."

And she suggests that states allow established Medicaid providers to handle this population. “They will have in place the infrastructure to provide for this population.” It’s system that expands well past health insurance to include translators, transportation, special needs care coordination, and housing and food assistance.

The BHP isn't a silver bullet. It isn't going to resolve provider reimbursement issues so prevalent in the care of the low-income population, for instance, but creating a BHP does hold the promise of helping to reduce state healthcare costs while stabilizing benefits and coverage, and reducing the number of uninsured. That's good news for hospitals, physicians and others who struggle to provide care for a population that often falls in and out of the insurance market.

States still have plenty of time to consider creating a basic health program. Like the HIE, the BHP will be required to cover what the ACA terms “essential benefits.” The Department of Health and Human Services is expected to finalize the list of benefits later this year.

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