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UniCare Health Plan of West Virginia Providing Assistance for Asthma Education Training
Date:3/12/2009

Well-known for its preventive care initiatives, state's largest Medicaid managed care plan is collaborating with the American Lung Association to provide medical professionals the opportunity to become certified in conducting Breathe Well, Live Well program

CHARLESTON, W.Va., March 12 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Lung Association of West Virginia (ALAWV) and UniCare Health Plan of West Virginia, Inc. (UniCare) are conducting an asthma education training session today, and UniCare is drawing from its vast health care network to provide health professionals from across the state to participate.

The training is part of a national effort by the American Lung Association that aims to reduce illness and disability due to asthma by training health care professionals to conduct workshops with the intent of improving asthma knowledge and self-management skills. Breathe Well, Live Well is the title of the effort and is based upon an intervention program developed by the University of Alabama at Birmingham Lung Health Center.

Similar to efforts involving the innovative Weight Watchers collaboration and body mass index (BMI) training for West Virginia physicians and clinical staff, UniCare recognized a serious problem and took the means to help alleviate the situation. It's part of UniCare's campaign, "Educate and Innovate."

"Although many people may not realize it, the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists West Virginia with one of the highest asthma rates in the nation, and while asthma is a chronic disease, with proper and consistent management, it can be controlled to avoid added medical care," said Mitch Collins, regional director for UniCare. "The workshops that will be conducted as a result of this training will help not only UniCare members, but all West Virginians."

When people complete the Breathe Well, Live Well training, they are required to conduct a workshop at least once per year. These workshops are open to the public and designed to educate asthmatics, family members of asthmatics and anyone else wishing to learn more about asthma identification and management.

In addition to sponsoring the individuals that participate in the training, UniCare offers medical clinics and primary care associations the opportunity to be compensated for workshops conducted. It is UniCare's policy to pay these organizations for education classes given to UniCare members.

"It's a win-win situation for everyone involved," said Collins.

"This is the second time the Breathe Well, Live Well training is being offered in West Virginia," said Jessica Isner, lung health program specialist for ALAWV. "To have UniCare, the largest Medicaid Managed Care Plan in the state, participate is great when it comes to extending the program's reach."

A quick look at asthma statistics in West Virginia shows the need for such an effort:

  • Approximately 8.5 percent of West Virginians currently have asthma. This equals approximately 123,000 adults and 31,000 children. (WVDHHR, The Burden of Asthma in West Virginia, 2007)

  • West Virginia children had the fourth highest prevalence of asthma in the nation in 2003. (ALA, Asthma in Children Fact Sheet, August 2006)

  • West Virginia adults aged 65 and older had the third highest rate of asthma in the nation in 2006. (West Virginia Health Care Authority, UB-92 data)

  • 19.4 percent of adults with asthma visited an emergency room or urgent care center because of their asthma in the past year. (Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System)

UniCare will sponsor:

  • Debbie Schoonover - Belington Clinic
  • Rebecca Barnhart - Minnie Hamilton Health Care, Grantsville

Other health care organizations will also be participating in the training, as well.

About UniCare

UniCare Health Plan of West Virginia, Inc. is an operating subsidiary of WellPoint, Inc. For more information, visit UniCare at www.unicare.com. (R) Registered mark of WellPoint, Inc.


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SOURCE UniCare Health Plan of West Virginia, Inc.
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