This September, New Jersey submitted a 160-page Comprehensive Medicaid Waiver to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in an attempt to lessen the rising costs of its Medicaid program and to reduce the need for institutions.
One major avenue for lowering Medicaid costs will be by keeping the elderly and people with disabilities out of nursing homes and in their communities, which is overwhelmingly the preferred option for patients and will ultimately save taxpayers money. “Home and community-based care costs about a third of institutional care,” stated Valerie Harr, Director of the Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services for the New Jersey’s state Medicaid program. The most significant savings, according to Harr, will be avoiding placement in an institution at all.
Other states have filed waivers with the federal government in order to make small adjustments that help to reduce costs while keeping patients at home longer, like offering wheel chair ramps and other accommodations that allow patients to stay at home. Changes like these highlight the benefit of increased preventative care measures and “often patient admissions are the result of a lack of adequate healthcare being provided preventatively,” stated Michael Scarbrough, Senior Vice President of Amerigroup. A huge opportunity to reduce costs, Scarbrough said, is avoiding that “$30,000 to $40,000 admission to the hospital: that can pay for a lot of care.”