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Johns' bill gets unanimous approval, moves to House

Last Modified: Monday, April 22, 2013 8:42 PM

By Jim Beam / American Press

BATON ROUGE — A bill designed to give more transparency to the state's Medicaid health care program for the poor got unanimous approval here Monday in the state Senate and moves to the House.

Sen. Ronnie Johns, R-Sulphur, is sponsor of Senate Bill 55. It is the third attempt to open up the state's handling of the Medicaid program. Two bills in earlier sessions were vetoed by Gov. Bobby Jindal.

The governor said the programs that the Johns bill wants to review have had enough time to get organized, and he doesn't plan to veto this version of the legislation.

 Jindal said he vetoed a 2011 bill by former state Sen. Willie Mount because it would have terminated the new program. However, it did provide for reauthorization by the Legislature in 2014. The Johns bill has no termination provision.?The 2012 Johns bill was vetoed by the governor because it required “duplicative and unnecessary reporting requirements.”

The three programs that the Johns bill would make more transparent are the Medicaid Bayou Health Program, the Behavioral Health Partnership and the Coordinated System of Care. The governor in 2011 had DHH turn those programs over to private insurance companies.

DHH describes Bayou Health as the new way most of Louisiana’s Medicaid and Louisiana Children’s Health Insurance Program recipients receive health care services. The Behavioral Health Partnership manages care for state-provided services like mental health care and addiction treatment. Coordinated Care is for the state’s at-risk children and youth with behavioral health challenges.

Johns and Mount said they wanted regular reports because of the sweeping changes being made to the Medicaid program involving billions of state and federal dollars. The Johns bill wants the care networks to be identified, information on the patients receiving care, the number and types of claims being denied, health outcomes and savings estimates.? 

The proposed legislation also says DHH “shall make available to the public on the department’s website all Medicaid state plan amendments and any related correspondence within 24 hours of submission to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services."

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