SHARECOMMENTMORE

PORTLAND, Maine(NEWS CENTER) -- The state's Medicaid program, better known as Maine Care, has been under fire in Augusta for a range of problems. But Maine Care officials say one program is helping people and actually saving money.

The ER Care Management program is aimed at cutting down on the use of emergency rooms for non-emergency care. Maine Care managers say many patients go to ER's because they don't have a primary care doctor, and don't know where else to get services. Emergency rooms are generally the most expensive places to get medical care.

The DHHS care managers work with patients to find a primary care physician, and then find out what other kinds of services they need. Patients and managers say that can cange from taxi or bus rides to doctors to other health services or even nutrition help. DHHS says the program is working, and that in just one year they saved eight million dollars.

Maine DHHS says the program is working with about 1,700 patients now, but that there are far more who need the same kind of help. Care Management Project Manager Tracy Emerson says they are planning to double the number of staff members working on that program. They say if they can double the number of patients, the savings should also double.