News outlets report on a variety of health issues at the state level including the upcoming launch of a huge Medicaid data project in Florida, health care changes that could reduce spending in Georgia and a model for reform in Vermont.
Health News Florida: "In a big step forward in the use of electronic health records, Florida is preparing to make the health histories of 1.6 (million) Medicaid patients accessible to 80,000 doctors, clinics and hospitals in the state on a secured-access system, one of the planners said Thursday. ... The information will be that derived from claim forms, including office visits, hospitalizations, diagnoses, prescriptions, immunizations and lab results. Except in an emergency, it will be available only if the Medicaid patient agrees, (Christine Nye, director of the State Center for Health Information and Policy Analysis) said, and the state will track every authorization that is granted" (Sexton, 11/13).
The Augusta Chronicle: "Figures released Thursday show Georgia taxpayers saved between $123 million and $140 million in the past fiscal year because of the state's own health-care reform of sorts. The federal share of savings is even greater. For 1 million low-income Georgians covered by the state's Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids insurance plans, the Perdue administration began nudging them toward a concept it called care-management organizations. Three private companies bid for the business, which requires them to provide a more intense level of interaction with patients. The goal is for case managers to teach more healthful habits" (Jones, 11/16).
NPR reports on health care in Vermont and interviews the state's Republican governor Jim Douglas, who chairs the National Governors Association. Douglas says Vermont's own state-initiated reforms called Blueprint for Health, which focuses on preventative and coordinated care, could provide a national model. Douglas says: "I realize that the time that our Medicaid budget was headed for unsustainability, we got permission from the federal government to redeploy our Medicaid dollars for preventive care. And we've seen a significant decline in hospital utilization by Medicaid participants and trips to the emergency room and in the dollars we're expending. Secondly, we have a community health team that coordinates the care for each individual person. And we provide payment incentives for following that model" (11/15).