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Saturday, December 2nd 2006

Live Healthy (Or Die)


Name Change: West Virginia To West New Hampshire

West Virginia Medicaid is setting up to take benefits away from patients who don’t take care of themselves.

Ignoring doctors’ orders may now start exacting a new price among West Virginia’s Medicaid recipients. Under a reorganized schedule of aid, the state, hoping for savings over time, plans to reward “responsible” patients with significant extra benefits or — as critics describe it — punish those who do not join weight-loss or antismoking programs, or who miss too many appointments, by denying important services.

The incentive effort, the first of its kind, received quick approval last summer from the Bush administration, which is encouraging states to experiment with “personal responsibility” as a chief principle of their Medicaid programs. Idaho and Kentucky are also planning reward programs, though more modest ones, for healthful behavior.

Personally I support this. The Medicaid commish in West Virginia sums it up best,

“We always talk about Medicaid members’ rights, but rarely about their responsibilities,” said Nancy Atkins, state commissioner of medical services.

There are major doubts this can save the state money. Since so much of the costs of Medicaid will be incurred in providing “end” care whether the patients take care of themselves are not. Personally, I think people are condemning this too soon, it may indeed actually improve health by forcing patient’s to pay more attention to their lifestyles.

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