Medical Home Common Theme in ACA State Grant Programs

We have been tracking some of the health plan innovations that are being funding as part of the Affordable Care Act. (ACA). Stateline, the daily news service of the Pew Charitable Trusts, has published an article that looks into the progress states are making in their efforts to grapple with the relatively high cost and low quality of U.S. health care.

Stateline notes that out of the $1.8 trillion the ACA is projected to cost over the next decade, $10 billion is dedicated to innovation programs. Susan Dentzer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a nonprofit group that promotes improvements in the U.S. health care system told Stateline, “The idea is to take governors up on their claim that states are the laboratories of democracy where meaningful innovations can occur.”

So far, Stateline reports, Arkansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon and Vermont have applied for funds under the under an ACA program called the State Innovation Models Initiative, and this year, they began testing new health care financing models. Another 19 states are in various stages of developing similar experiments.

A common theme, according to Stateline, is connecting more people to “patient-centered medical homes” where “care coordinators” ensure they receive cancer screenings and other preventive care. For those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, the goal is to avoid expensive hospitalizations by managing their conditions with medicine and lifestyle changes, the article says.

Stateline points out that states wield tremendous influence in the health care marketplace. noting that Medicaid, the joint federal-state health care program for low-income people, accounts for about 15 percent of all U.S. health care spending. When combined with benefit plans for millions of state workers and retirees, states are among the biggest payers in the health care system.

For a complete recap of what each state plans to do with its ACA grant and to see if your state has applied, check out the story at PewStates.org.

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