Politics & Government
7:47 am
Tue June 18, 2013

New Alabama Medicaid Districts Unveiled

Alabama Medicaid officials have divided the state into five districts under a new care management plan that's supposed to streamline the system.

   The Legislature earlier this year approved a reorganization of Medicaid into districts around the state. State Health Officer Don Williamson, the acting Medicaid director, said it was difficult to decide how to divide the counties, and added that some counties could be shifted before the map is finalized Oct. 1.

   Medicaid officials had been pushing for the district plan. Medicaid patients are encouraged but not required to get their health care from facilities within the district where they live.

   Williamson said there's nothing in the new plan to prevent patients from going to the same doctors they've always seen. He said one problem was that everybody wanted to be in the same district with a successful hospital, like UAB.

   But he said every region will have ties to UAB.

   "None of these districts are perfect," Williamson said Monday at a briefing for Medicaid providers. "There's nothing perfect about this. Everybody is not happy with it," Williamson said.

   Williamson said Chilton County was an example of a difficult county to place. Chilton is located halfway between Montgomery and Birmingham.

   The five regions are divided geographically and all counties are left intact.

   "We didn't split any counties in half," Williamson said.

   Counties included in the five regions are:

   Region A: Lauderdale, Limestone, Madison, Jackson, Colbert, Franklin, Laurence, Morgan, Cullman and Marshall.

   Region B: DeKalb, Etowah, Cherokee, Calhoun, Cleburne, Clay, Randolph, Tallapoosa, Blount, Walker, Jefferson, St. Clair, Shelby Talladega and Coosa.

   Region C: Marion, Winston, Fayette, Lamar, Pickens, Tuscaloosa, Greene, Hale, Bibb, Perry, Sumter, Marengo and Choctaw.

   Region D: Chilton, Autauga, Elmore, Chambers, Lee, Macon, Russell, Bullock, Dallas, Lowndes, Montgomery, Macon, Butler, Crenshaw, Pike, Barbour, Coffee, Dale, Geneva. Houston and Henry.

   Region E: Washington, Mobile, Baldwin, Monroe, Clarke, Conecuh and Escambia.

   Republican State Rep. Greg Wren of Montgomery is chairman of the Legislature's joint Medicaid committee. He said he likes the look of the districts. "It's a starting point," he said.