Published on AJMC.
Linda Schwimmer, president and CEO of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute (NJHCQI), discusses the impact of the group’s report, Medicaid 2.0, which outlined how the state can bring healthcare transformation principles to a program that consumes a fifth of the state budget. New Jersey elects a new governor in November, and the blueprint was widely seen a policy recommendation for the next administration.
A key recommendation of NJHCQI’s Medicaid 2.0 report was for the next governor to create an Office of Health Care Transformation. Are you optimistic this will happen?
I am optimistic about the Office of Health Care Transformation. We’ve seen this model work in other states. In New Jersey, what we’ve seen is healthcare is spread across 7 different departments often leading to siloed decision-making, and sometimes competitive actions between departments—and a lack of a vision for where healthcare needs to go, and where our healthcare dollars need to go as a state. When we’ve spoken to candidates [before the election on November 7], as well as leaders across the healthcare industry, we’ve had broad consensus support for this type of action. I think all of the healthcare challenges we have, it would be the smartest thing our new governor could do.
Do you think Medicaid transformation will happen in New Jersey?
We have transformed our Medicaid system to some extent over the last 5 years, just through the expansion of the Medicaid population and a lot of the work that’s been done through the current waiver. But we still have a lot more to do. The Medicaid 2.0 process really convened all of the stakeholders to have discussions about where our Medicaid system needs to go, now and into the future. Given that 20% of our population receives its healthcare through Medicaid, and over 40% of our births are paid for by Medicaid, and a high percentage of seniors receive care through Medicaid, we’re really talking about care for a lot of people and some of our neediest and most vulnerable residents in New Jersey, there’s a lot we can do. The blueprint points us in 24 different directions with its recommendations.