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Balancing Costs, Benefits of Medicaid Programs

Presented by the Health Policy Task Force

2:30-4:30 p.m. Dec. 1

The recent Supreme Court decision on health care reform squarely placed the decision on expanding Medicaid eligibility in the hands of the states. Policymakers are grappling with a myriad of arguments on both sides—and struggling to balance what their states can afford and what their uninsured state residents need. State leaders who have studied the question and arrived at different answers will share their analyses. Dr. Joseph Thompson, Arkansas’ surgeon general, will also review his state’s progress in implementing the nation’s first statewide Medicaid payment reform initiative. Other speakers will address significant reform efforts to control Medicaid costs in their states.


Confirmed Speakers


April Alexander, Regional Director of State Affairs
Molina Healthcare


Gary D. Alexander
Pennsylvania Secretary of Public Welfare
Full bio>>






Matt McKillop, Senior Associate, Research
State Health Care Spending Project, Pew Charitable Trusts
Full bio>>



Joseph W. Thompson, MD, MPH
Arkansas Surgeon General and Director, Arkansas Center for Health Improvement
Full bio>>







Gary D. Alexander
Secretary of Public Welfare Gary D. Alexander oversees a department that provides services and supports to more than 2.1 million low-income, elderly and disabled Pennsylvanians. He is widely recognized as a health care and program innovator, welfare reformer and management specialist.
Prior to being confirmed as DPW secretary, Alexander served as the Rhode Island Secretary of Health and Human Services. In that role, he transformed health and human services into a value-oriented and performance-driven system focused on the needs of the consumer. He is the architect of the landmark Rhode Island Global Consumer Choice Compact Medicaid Waiver. The Rhode Island waiver redesigned the entire system of healthcare to focus on quality, choice and independence for consumers, while saving millions of dollars for the taxpayers.
He also reformed the state’s cash assistance program to focus on “work first” and engage clients in employment. These efforts resulted in a 30 percent reduction in Rhode Island’s welfare population over the past two years.
Other positions he has held include serving as policy director for Rhode Island’s lieutenant governor and as a healthcare budget analyst for the Massachusetts Senate Committee on Ways and Means.
A Boston native, Alexander received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Northeastern University and his J.D. from Suffolk University School of Law, both in Boston. He is an ordained deacon in the Armenian Orthodox Church. Back to speakers.

Matt McKillop
Matt McKillop is a senior associate for Pew’s States’ Health Care Spending project, a joint initiative with The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, that analyzes health care spending across the 50 states over the past decade, delves into the factors driving up costs, and examines the effectiveness of cost-containment efforts. McKillop coordinates the project’s research on cost-containment strategies.
Previously, he conducted research on other state fiscal issues, such as pension and retiree health care benefits and states’ budget balancing measures. He also helped lead a cross-cutting communications team within the Pew Center on the States. Prior to Pew, he led advocacy and community organizing campaigns for So Others Might Eat, a nonprofit organization that serves poor and homeless residents of the District of Columbia.
McKillop holds his master’s degree in public policy from The George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Kalamazoo College. Back to speakers.

Joseph W. Thompson, MD, MPH
Dr. Joe Thompson’s work is centered at the intersection of clinical care, public health and health policy. He is responsible for developing health policy, research activities and collaborative programs that promote better health and health care in Arkansas. Dr. Thompson works closely with the governor’s office, the Arkansas legislature and public and private organizations across the state on relevant health policy topics.
Dr. Thompson has led vanguard efforts in planning and implementing health care financing reform, tobacco- and obesity-related health promotion and disease prevention programs. He was the lead architect of the Tobacco Settlement Act of 2000 and instituted the Arkansas Health Insurance Roundtable. Under his leadership, ACHI helped pass the Clean Indoor Air Act of 2006, documented the state’s success in halting progress of the childhood obesity epidemic, and helped implement ARHealthNetworks, Arkansas’s health care benefits waiver for low-income workers.
Dr. Thompson has been at the forefront of both Arkansas’s leading-edge efforts against childhood obesity and in national efforts to reverse childhood obesity as the former Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity.
He currently serves on the Arkansas Board of Health and is past president of the Arkansas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Nationally, Dr. Thompson serves on the board of the Campaign to End Obesity and of AcademyHealth, as well as serving on Institute of Medicine’s standing committee on childhood obesity.  He is author of numerous articles and publications that reflect his research interests in the areas of health and health care including access, quality and finance.
Dr. Thompson earned his medical degree from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Master of Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He served as the RWJF Clinical Scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Luther Terry Fellow in Preventive Medicine advising the U.S. assistant secretary of Health in Washington, D.C., and the assistant vice president and director of research at the National Committee for Quality Assurance in Washington, D.C.  In 1997, he served as the First Child and Adolescent Health Scholar of the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (then the U.S. Agency for Health Care Policy and Research) before returning to Arkansas. Back to speakers.