R.I. health initiative gets federal boost

Posted 11/22/10

WASHINGTON – Rhode Island was chosen as one of eight states to receive new federal support under the Multi-Payer Advanced Primary Care Practice demonstration program under Medicare.

The Rhode Island Chronic Care Sustainability Initiative, a 3-year-old project convened by the R.I. Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner, was accepted into the federal program, the state’s congressional delegation announced Nov. 17.

Members of Rhode Island’s congressional delegation – Sen. Jack Reed, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy and Rep. James R. Langevin – all praised the decision, saying that it positioned Rhode Island as a national leader, on the cutting edge of health reform.

The initiative, using an innovative concept known as a “patient-centered medical home” for chronic care patients, has created a new model for both delivery of health care services and payment, according to Dr. Deidre Gifford, project director for the R.I. Chronic Care Sustainability Initiative.

“This is a win-win-win for Rhode Island,” said Gifford “It’s a win for the patients, because they’re getting to access to more, patient-centered care. It’s a win for the primary care community, because they are getting more support. And, it’s a win for the health plans and the employers. Even though we are making investments in the primary care infrastructure, we hope and expect it will decrease health costs based on the improvement in primary care prevention.”

With the new resources from Medicare, primary care providers will receive $3 per member per month for every member in their practice receiving Medicare, according to Gifford. In addition, Medicare is going to contribute part of the salary of a nurse to help coordinate the extra work the chronic care population requires. Additional federal resources will also be going to support the multi-stakeholder collaboration.

“We know that when doctors work together, patients receive better care. This is particularly true for seniors who typically visit multiple doctors for a variety of health care conditions. With the implementation of this program, doctors will now be supported by Medicare in their efforts to coordinate and integrate care, which will keep patients healthier,” said Reed.

R.I. Health Insurance Commissioner Christopher F. Koller said the new resources will be going to support practices in Rhode Island that are leading the transformation of primary care in the state. “Only by doing this work will we have a health system in Rhode Island that raises community health, increases efficiency and improves the patient experience of care,” Koller said.

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