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Minding The Medicaid Patient

Washington state has been trying to cut medical costs associated with Medicaid beneficiaries. This month it launched a new program called Health Homes. It’s part of the Affordable Care Act and is designed to help people who are not able to manage their chronic health conditions on their own.
The state has identified about 100,000 Medicaid clients who have challenges that get in the way of taking care of themselves. They might have complicating factors like depression or drug dependency that affect their ability to do things like remembering to take their medication. These patients tend to have a history of higher than normal hospitalizations, and it’s costing taxpayers.

In the coming weeks these patients will be paired up with care coordinators to help them better manage their health. In the case of patients who forget to take their medicine, for example, the coordinator will help them find ways to remember.

Cheri Dolezal is with Optum Health Homes, a company that’s sending out care coordinators.  “Some people will need a call everyday. Some people have a phone and they might just need to show how you can set up that phone as a reminder,” she says. “Everybody is different, and I think our care coordinators recognize that and build their health action plans around their particular needs.”

And as other health issues arise, the care coordinator will connect them to the services they need. Care coordinators are part coach, part traffic cop and part cheerleader. Dolezal says the goal is to improve the patients’ overall health.

Health homes are being rolled out in 37 counties. Snohomish and King will follow next year.

Year started with KUOW: 1994