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Ballad's plan for improving Medicaid is no easy feat

Johnson City Press • Aug 26, 2018 at 11:08 AM

Our local health professionals, in partnership with thousands of their counterparts across the country, have taken on a monumental task — improving the care of the nearly 75 million Americans who rely on Medicaid.

According to an announcement last week from Ballad Health, the regional system joined with 16 others as part of The Medicaid Transformation Project, an effort led by former Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator Andy Slavitt. Under Slavitt’s leadership, the participating health systems, which serve more than half the country’s Medicaid population, have committed to improving care for patients in the areas of behavioral health, women and infant care, substance use disorder and reducing the number of preventable emergency department visits.

The leaders of Ballad and its predecessors, Wellmont Health System and Mountain States Health Alliance, have long identified needs in those specific areas in our region, and we applaud their willingness to combine forces with other large care providers to take on the persistent and important issues.

With Medicaid expansion stalled in the Tennessee statehouse for the past four years, depriving thousands of affordable access to health care, it’s good to see these systems stepping up and making an effort to improve our overall health.

Even more promising, the solutions these 17 systems come up with may be shared with others across the nation that serve Medicaid patients.

In the competitive industry of health care, convincing health systems to share anything, be it resources or information, is remarkable. It’s a messy, dog-eat-dog world out there, but this partnership may represent a change.

We encourage Ballad to form more partnerships in strategic areas outside the region to enhance our care, and we hope other systems are willing to cast off the old competitive models and work with them.

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