We’re sharing our exclusive interview here with Carole Johnson, New Jersey’s new Commissioner of Human Services, as she outlines her vision to strengthen the state’s Medicaid program for today — and tomorrow.
At the Quality Institute, we often talk about the power of purchasers to drive innovation to improve quality and reduce costs. As we move forward with the state’s budget we must start thinking about how the state also can more strongly leverage its enormous purchasing power. Medicaid provides coverage to about 1.7 million people and accounts for almost 16 percent of the state’s budget. Added to the State Health Benefits Program, which covers government employees and their families, that’s about 2.5 million lives.
As a longtime observer of state health policy — and politics — I do not believe in the past we’ve sufficiently used that power to drive heath care quality for patients and cost savings for the state. There is vast opportunity here.
Commissioner Johnson addresses the topic in her Take Five. Also, at our All Council Conference on May 16, Suzanne Delbanco, Executive Director of Catalyst for Payment Reform, will address the question: Can purchasers turn the tide in a costly and inefficient health care system? She’ll provide real world advice for small and large businesses — and, I think, for the state — to really make a difference in care and cost. Good care and cost containment are connected. As you all know, it’s bad care that ultimately costs us the most.
Also addressing this important topic at our conference will be the state’s new Health Commissioner, Dr. Shereef Elnahal, as well as an expert panel. We invite our members to read our interview with Commissioner Johnson and take part in this important dialogue at our conference.