Photo courtesy of Sanja Gjenero
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In 2008, Centene Corp. took on a contract to manage health care for 30,000 foster children in Texas — a tough new challenge for the Clayton-based Medicaid contractor.
Texas state caregivers had been prescribing a lot of psychotropic drugs to these children and adolescents. As these youngsters were shuttled from one house to another, Centene executives said, state authorities often lost track of which medications the children were taking.
“I think the state understood that their ability to manage this population was limited,” said Keith Williamson, Centene’s general counsel.
Within a year of winning the contract, Williamson and other Centene executives said, the Texas foster care program was being more effectively managed: The state budget for foster children had declined, and the number of psychotropic drug prescriptions was reduced significantly.
One key: Centene created a “health passport” for the children, an electronic medical record that follows them from county to county and into adulthood.
Centene executives cite their success with the foster care program as an example of how a managed care company can provide quality care while saving money.
But in Texas and other states, managed care of Medicaid continues to spark debate. Continue reading