LOUISIANA: Introduces Medicaid ID Cards
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Friday announced that Medicaid recipients "soon will get plastic cards with magnetic strips to identify them electronically as being eligible for health care benefits and to speed up the processing of claims," the Baton Rouge Advocate reports. DHH Secretary David Hood "said the program will be phased in by January 1999." Medicaid recipients in the Lake Charles area will begin receiving the cards this month; the program will be expanded to the Baton Rouge and Lafayette areas in June and July respectively. Hood said the "cards, which look like credit cards, will allow physicians, hospitals and other health care professionals to determine immediately whether someone is eligible for Medicaid and to which services they are entitled." A new card will be sent to each Medicaid recipient annually at an estimated cost of $300,000, Hood said. The state currently mails out paper eligibility cards each month, at a cost of $1.7 million per year. "We feel this is a win-win situation for everyone. From the perspective of the taxpayer we have almost a $1.4 million savings and in the future a reduction of Medicaid abuses and fraud," Hood said. He added that "no estimate can be made on savings through reduction of Medicaid abuses," but he said the state "believe[s] it will be significant." The Advocate notes that the cards will feature a hologram "as an anti-counterfeiting measure."
Hood said the new system "could be developed to handle Medicaid billings" in the next few years. In addition, he "said the new system will also position DHH to take advantage of technological advances as they develop so that medical information can be shared among physicians and other who treat the same patient" (Shuler, 3/21).