Medicaid Grants to Help Improve Access To Primary Care and Avoid Unnecessary ER Visits

Medicaid Grants to Help Improve Access
To Primary Care and Avoid Unnecessary ER Visits

CMS today announced grants of $50 million to 20 states to help improve access to primary medical care so that Medicaid beneficiaries could avoid improper use of costly hospital emergency rooms.

“These grants provide new programs and services to help people get the non-emergency care they need in the most appropriate setting,” CMS Acting Administrator Kerry Weems said. “We are committed to working closely with the states to implement effective reforms to slow spending growth while maintaining access to coverage.”

Created by the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA), these grants will help Medicaid programs fund local and rural initiatives to provide alternative health care settings for individuals with non-emergent medical needs.

The DRA provided $50 million to be distributed over four years (2006-2009) for primary health care programs, primarily in rural and/or other underserved areas as well as programs that work closely with community hospitals.

Today’s award of $37.5 million includes the first three years of the initiative and will fund 29 programs in these 20 states. The remaining $12.5 million will be available to those grantees in 2009.

Grantees will use the funds to:

· establish new community health centers;
· extend the hours of operation at existing clinics;
· educate beneficiaries about new services; and
· provide for electronic health information exchange between facilities for better coordination of care.

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States receiving grant funds under this program are Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Washington.

Today’s action helps align Medicaid efforts with Medicare’s value-based purchasing strategies, also designed to avoid unnecessary emergency room visits through improved physician care and strategies to decrease re-admissions.

More information on the grants, including the grant proposals and the amount each program will receive, can be found at: http://www.cms.hhs.gov/GrantsAlternaNonEmergServ/.

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