by Billy Ball
Even as North Carolina lawmakers reportedly consider a proposal shifting control of the state's Medicaid spending to an independent panel of political appointees, North Carolina Secretary of Health and Human Services Aldona Wos is calling for a different model.
Wos asked legislators, who reconvened this week, to consider accountable care organizations, or ACOs, a model included in President Obama's Affordable Care Act by which networks of health care providers agree to a budget for providing care.
It's one method being considered as North Carolina grapples with often unpredictable spending on Medicaid, a joint state and federal program assisting low-income residents with medical bills.
At a forum this week, Wos—an appointee of Gov. Pat McCrory—said ACOs ensure that doctors and hospitals, by agreeing to partner on a Medicaid budget, share the fiscal burden with the state, according to a Department of Health and Human Services release.
"We all know we have to watch the money. We have to be true not only to the citizens that we take care of and we serve in our population, we have to be true to the taxpayers that are paying for this," said Wos. "And the only way we can do that [is] if we have an ability to honestly, ourselves, manage the cost."
House and Senate Republicans in the N.C. General Assembly could not agree on ACOs last year, although they are expected to weigh multiple methods for Medicaid reform in 2015.