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Health Care Reform Could Expand Patient-Centered Programs

Two governors describe local health care initiatives, say they need flexibility to implement reforms that fit their states' needs.

The governors of Vermont and West Virginia, two states with "medical home" programs—which give patients one access point, a primary care provider, for all their health care needs—discuss the concept in this interview with "Inside E Street" host, Sheilah Kast.

The "medical-home" movement aims to deliver more comprehensive, coordinated care than a patient would otherwise receive. Gov. Jim Douglas (R-Vt.) says the program—which serves some 10 percent of his state's population—has improved the quality of care and contained costs. Gov. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) says his state's program focuses on preventive care and has seen "appreciable gains." West Virginia offers Medicaid members incentives for volunteering to participate in the state's medical-home initiative.

The health care reform bills being debated in Congress could end up expanding other programs similar to medical homes. At the state level, says Gov. Douglas—who also serves as chair of the National Governors Association, a bipartisan organization that represents the nation's governors—new strategies for delivering care and improving the quality of care are among the key reform issues. He adds that the flexibility for local governments to decide what works best for their states, in terms of implementing national health reform measures, is critical. Gov. Manchin, who is vice chair of the Association, says that West Virginia's medical-home initiative is scalable to the state level, and that the flexibility to expand on these programs is essential. Given states' economic and fiscal realities, they cannot support an unfunded mandate for insurance coverage, Gov. Douglas adds.

Watch the full episode of "Inside E Street" in which the governors explain their states' unique health care challenges, the future of their local initiatives, and the need for a bipartisan approach to national health care reform.

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