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PA Governor Rendell Says Pennsylvania Again Leads the Nation With Introduction of Chronic Care Management Plan
Date:2/13/2008

HARRISBURG, Pa., Feb. 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Edward G. Rendell today received a blueprint that will save the health care system in Pennsylvania billions of dollars as the commonwealth becomes the national leader in the way it delivers and pays for treatment of chronic diseases while significantly improving care.

The Chronic Care Management, Reimbursement and Cost Reduction Commission delivered its first report to the Governor today as part of the Governor's Prescription for Pennsylvania health care reform plan.

"Chronic diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in Pennsylvania and account for 80 percent of our health care costs," Governor Rendell said. "Our present system treats acute illness; it doesn't control chronic disease. And, faced with the increasing cost of health care, governments, businesses, insurers and Pennsylvania families have -- out of necessity -- chosen to limit health care services.

"In Pennsylvania, only 56 percent of people with a chronic condition receive the recommended care to manage their disease. Unfortunately, evidence is mounting that exactly the opposite approach is more successful.

"The good news is that we know that if health care providers adopt evidence-based protocols proven to help manage chronic disease, it will have long-term health benefits for people. It will also have economic benefits as healthier employees mean improved productivity for our businesses and taking appropriate preventative measures can reduce the need for many expensive emergency room visits and translates to lower insurance premiums overall. That's why this report -- this blueprint -- is critical for improving quality of life and to save money."

The 44 members of the Chronic Care Management, Reimbursement and Cost Reduction Commission have worked since last September to develop a plan that proposes a pilot program enrolling 30-60 primary care practices in the southeastern region in learning collaboratives that will help to improve how they monitor, deliver and are reimbursed for chronic care management. The first collaborative will start in May and, by the fall, additional collaboratives will begin in other regions of the state.

While a few other states, such as Vermont, Washington, Colorado and North Carolina, have begun chronic care initiatives, Pennsylvania's is the first that also takes into consideration the way health care practitioners are paid for delivering care. The commission members agree that it pays dividends to work to pay a little more to improve the time that is spent with patients before problems are exacerbated and become difficult for the patient to handle and more costly to the system.

"What is significant about this report is that it comes from a 'who's who' of Pennsylvania health care providers -- from health insurance providers and hospital executives, to physicians and nurses, and labor and consumer representatives," Governor Rendell said. "They all agree that we must adopt a stronger, proactive approach to address chronic conditions while also addressing how we pay for chronic care services. We must work together to update information systems and improve the attention we give to self management.

"Rarely, when it comes to health policy, do you get every group involved to agree on the changes that are required, but that's what has happened in Pennsylvania with this new initiative to tackle chronic care."

The 44 commission members represent a broad cross section of health care related fields and come from all geographic areas of the state. In addition, the secretaries of Health, Public Welfare and Insurance and the Director of the Governor's Office of Health Care Reform serve as members of the commission.

"This strategic plan represents hundreds of hours of research, discussion and careful consideration of the core principles and necessary actions required to fundamentally change the way health care is delivered in Pennsylvania," Governor Rendell said. "It is a visionary plan that puts Pennsylvania on an innovative path to significantly improved health outcomes and real cost savings.

"I thank the commission members for their contribution of time, energy and expertise on a plan that will improve the health of Pennsylvanians with chronic disease and reduce the costs for all Pennsylvanians."

The completion of the plan is only the beginning of the commission's work. The Governor's Office of Health Care Reform has already begun implementing the strategies outlined in the plan.

To illustrate some of the evidence-based, patient oriented strategies that will be implemented as part of Pennsylvania's new chronic care model, the commission's report included a comparative scenario focused on a hypothetical patient named "May."

May is a 52-year-old woman with diabetes who, under the current system, is having trouble dealing with her disease. While she knows she needs to take care of herself because she saw first-hand how her mother's diabetes led to severe disabilities that could have been avoided, she has a limited idea of how to best take care of her health. Under the current system, May does not have the time with her doctor that she needs to be able to be proactive in her own care, and is likely to end up using the hospital and emergency room as her disease progresses. The cost of this care and the diminished capacity she would experience would seriously affect the quality of life for her and her children.

Under the new chronic care model, May would have a care management team including her doctor, nutritionists and registered nurses who work together to provide a comprehensive and simple support network to help May manage her condition. The cost of these programs is far less than the cost of avoidable hospitalizations and May will live a longer, healthier life.

The chronic care plan, as well as more information on Governor Rendell's Prescription for Pennsylvania, can be found at http://www.rxforpa.com.

The Rendell administration is committed to creating a first-rate public education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing economic investment to support our communities and businesses. To find out more about Governor Rendell's initiatives and to sign up for his weekly newsletter, visit http://www.governor.state.pa.us.

EDITOR'S NOTE: For a copy of the commission's report, visit http://www.rxforpa.com/assets/pdfs/ChronicCareCommissionReport.pdf.

CONTACT: Chuck Ardo 717-783-1116

Amy Kelchner (GOHCR) 717-346-8379


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SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor
Copyright©2008 PR Newswire.
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