U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington. Terryl Asla/Kitsap News Group

Health care providers, elected officials: Investment in innovation pays off

By TERRYL ASLA

Kitsap News Group

BREMERTON – More than 600,000 Washingtonians have gained access to health care through the expansion of Medicaid, including about 20,000 people in Kitsap County.

Overall, more than 44,000 people in Kitsap County are covered through Medicaid and the related Children’s Health Insurance Program.

“Washington state’s success in reducing costs in the Medicaid program while improving health outcomes for patients stems from innovations in the delivery of health care,” according to the Washington Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

“Washington state — as an early Medicaid innovator — has saved more than $2.5 billion over the past 15 years by transitioning people from more expensive nursing homes into less expensive home- and community-based care that helps them age in place — a process known as ‘re-balancing.’”

Local health care providers and elected officials believe that kind of success could be in jeopardy because of capitation — a proposed system of reimbursing health care providers that Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-WA, said would reduce support for low-income and older Americans.

“Innovate, don’t capitate” was the theme of Cantwell’s visit with Kitsap-area healthcare providers, elected officials and others on March 11 at Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the importance of Medicaid, as well as the possible effects of the plan put forward in Congress to cut and cap Medicaid and how it could affect Kitsap.

Participants included an array of healthcare leaders and area government officials.

Throughout the meeting, empirical and anecdotal evidence was presented demonstrating that, with sufficient resources, innovative and collaborative programs could save taxpayers far more money than the cost of the programs.

Much of that success comes from the creation of coalitions and the use of evidence-based programs. For example, when it came to homelessness, Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent pointed out that the city identified 50 of the most chronically homeless residents through statistical analysis and then set about finding out how to address the root problems, starting with the availability of housing.

With the Affordable Care Act, the rate of uninsured individuals coming to Harrison Medical Center’s emergency room is down, according to Dr. Karen Schindler, emergency room physician.

“There is a huge percentage of healthy people who need help navigating the health care system,” Schindler said.

Terryl Asla is a reporter for the Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at tasla@soundpublishing.com.

More in News

‘Pop Pop’ is gone, but beloved patriarch’s spirit lives on

Michael Keaton’s shattered family gathers strength from his legacy.

Don Clotfelter / WSDOT
Late-night closures for Hood Canal Bridge

SHINE — The Hood Canal Bridge will be closed during the late… Continue reading

Kitsap Community Food Co-Op gets new home

BREMERTON — The Kitsap Community Food Co-Op will finally have a home… Continue reading

Champagne, anyone? Chris Craft wooden boats bring elegance to marina

The 29th annual Chris Craft Rendezvous docks in Port Orchard Marina.

Rob Putaansuu
Putaansuu elected to AWC board

The Port Orchard mayor is in his first term in office.

Suspected hit-and-run driver surrenders to KCSO

Ali Rochelle Giannini had been listed as a ‘person of interest.’ She’s now in Kitsap County Jail.

This poster displays the route John Kuntz will take along the Columbia River. (Photo courtesy John Kuntz)
Local plans 1,250-mile kayak trip

Trek made to inspire children to explore outdoors

Housing Kitsap kicks off work on Sherman Ridge

The new neighborhood is part of Housing Kitsap’s affordable homeownership efforts in the county.

A 49-year-old man was arrested in Bremerton in connection with a three-year-old hit-and-run incident in Port Orchard. (Photo courtesy Washington State Patrol Trooper Chelsea Hodgson)
Bremerton man arrested in fatal 2015 Port Orchard hit-and-run

64-year-old Chris Lukkassson was hit and killed by a vehicle on Victory Drive Southwest

Most Read