Rhode Island Monthly – Death and Taxes

BY Ellen Liberman

Our legislators tried to eliminate the much-maligned car tax before – and they failed. With hundreds of millions of dollars at stake. will the current plan work?

Jack (not his real name) was a managed-care nightmare. Homeless and unemployed. the fifty-one-year-old alcoholic was plagued by stomach pain and mobility issues. He was eligible for Medicaid, but he hadn’t seen his primary care physician In more than a year. Nonetheless, Jack h$d gotten lots of medical attention: sixty­-five hospitalizations between January and September 2017, costing roughly $200,000 in emergency room visits and inpatient stays.

ln 2013, the state hired CareLink, a nonprofit network of health care 1nanagers, to help more than 2,600 Medicare and Medicaid recipients get the right treatment in the right setting. ln June, CareLink’s Community Health Team RI (CHT) tracked Jack down. He wasn’t receptive at first, but eventually, Jack started seeing his doctor and taking his medications regularly. His hospitalizations dropped by 50 percent in five months, saving $36,000.

TheCHT might have continued to help Jack. but in mid-October, CareLink learned that the state had chopped the $700,000 program. So what motivated officials to clip a program with the potential to deliver significant health care savings?