Medical News for You presenting multiple town halls to explain Louisville-region Medicaid changes

By TERRY BOYD | Published: NOVEMBER 21, 2012


Medical News for You staffers will conduct a series of town hall meetings across the Louisville region to help members navigate on-going changes to Medicaid for Region 3.

It’s Medical News to You to the rescue as Kentucky’s Medicaid Meltdown continues.

“Most importantly, we are trying to help people understand that no matter what they hear, they have a choice in their new plan including a choice to remain with Passport Health Plan,” said Ben Keeton, MN4U publisher.

The region, which is the largest and most populous of the state’s eight Medicaid regions, includes about 170,000 Medicaid members in Jefferson and 15 surrounding counties. Until now, Region 3 has been the purview solely of Louisville-based Passport Health Plan. Last May, state officials issued requests for proposals for Passport’s region saying the federal government was ordering them start to increase competition in the Medicaid managed care space.

The basic message is, Keeton said, ” ‘This isn’t the end of the world.’ We want to educate people on changes in Medicaid so they can make the best decision for their family. They’re not stuck with the plan the state assigns them.”

In addition to Passport, the new MCOs for Region 3 are Coventry Health Care, based in Bethesda, Md., WellCare Health Plans based in Tampa, Fla. and Louisville-based Humana, with patients initially divvied up between plans via an assignment algorithm.

In the town halls, MN4U staff will walk attendees through the selection process including the relative advantages of each Medicaid managed care plan, Keeton said.

“We want to encourage people to make sure they look at the provider networks. What the plans actually cover – the benefit summary and the pharmacy benefits.”

The first Medicaid town hall is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 9, after services at St. Stephens Church at 1018 S. 15 St.

The MN4U staff doesn’t have a set number of total town halls in mind.

But they will conduct meetings in all 16 Passport counties – five in Jefferson County – which would require at least 20 events in libraries, churches and community centers, Keeton said.

In the last few weeks, his staff has gotten feedback from MN4U readers that MCO members “are very confused and alarmed by the changes,” he said.

Most think they won’t have the option to stay with Passport, which has been the MCO provider in the region since 1995.

“Every single person can go back to Passport if they want to, but it’s not been made clear they can do that,” Keeton said.

About Medical News for You: Medical News for You is a 2-year-old montly publication designed to provide health care users with information to make better decisions and to spend treatment dolars more wisely. The paper is distributed to 1,400 physiucian offices and 80 health care locations around the Louisville area.