Maine's Acting Insurance Superintendent, Eric Cioppa, ruled last Monday (17 September) that the Dirigo Health Program saved the health care system $32.8 million in its third year of operation; roughly only one-third of the original $92.7 million savings estimate released on 8 July 2007.
Despite Karynlee Harrington, executive director of the Dirigo Health Agency, previously stating in the Portland Press Herald that the agency had refined the methodology used to determine the savings amount based on past decisions of the superintendent, it appears the agency needs a new mathmagician in accounting.
On 27 July, the Dirigo Health Board of Director had reduced the estimated $92.7 million to $78.1 million. The September 17 ruling of $32.8 million is the lowest savings figure, to date, in the agency's short, but beleaguered history; a possible indication that the agency has lost its steam. Last year's savings were $34.2 million and the first year savings were ruled to be $43.7 million.
Of the $32.8 million, Cioppa found that the program provided $25 million in hospital savings, $6.3 million in uninsured and under-insured initiatives, and $1.5 million in provider fee savings. The savings form the basis of the Savings Offset Payment (SOP), the sole funding mechanism for the program.
At a Dirigo Board meeting held after Cioppa's ruling, members discussed the possibility that the decrease in funding may result in the elimination of the subsidies currently paid to a majority of DirigoChoice program participants.
The Maine Dirigo Health program was established in 2003. Dirigo stopped accepting new enrollees July 1, 2007.■