Improving Our Health Care Delivery System

It’s been a busy year for Health Forward and our grantees. Before we bid farewell to an eventful year, our Health Forward associates take a look back at significant events and projects that helped make 2012 a productive year.

On day eight of our year in review, Health Forward Program Officer Graciela Couchonnal shares some of the projects Health Forward funded that promote quality health care.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) left it up to the states to decide whether or not to expand their Medicaid program. While Kansas decided to pass at this time, I was proud to join other health care stakeholders at Truman Medical Center two weeks ago to hear Gov. Jay Nixon announce his plans to adopt the expansion of Medicaid in Missouri.

This decision presents a unique opportunity for Missouri. By saying yes and accepting the $8.2 billion in federal funding, we can help some of the most underserved Missourians at minimal cost to the state, and also avoid some significant pitfalls to the health care industry.

Access to health care services has been a key area of funding for Health Forward since its beginnings. While we have funded many grants this year that increase access to care, our funding alone cannot solve this problem. Gov. Nixon’s decision has the far reaching impact needed to improve access to health care of all Missourians.

Right now there are two systems of care – one for those that have good health insurance and the other that lacks resources to meet the demands of its patients. So, while having health insurance is critically important to achieve optimal health, it is equally important that all people have access to high quality health care services.

Because of the ACA, we have the opportunity to put an end to these two different health care systems.

Perhaps the most significant project we funded in 2012 is the Missouri Medical Home Collaborative (MHHC). This grant provides funds to develop and implement an 18-month integrated primary care and behavioral health learning collaborative for 16 safety net practices participating in the MO HealthNet Health Home Initiative.

Health Forward awarded grants that provide practice coaches to help participating primary care and community mental health centers prepare for Medical Home/Health Homes certification. This initiative is both innovative and far-reaching. Not only does it impact close to 40,000 patients who are participating in the MO HealthNet Health Home initiative but it is also breaks new ground nationally by addressing the need for primary care and behavioral health integration.

Health Forward also announced expanded Safety Net Health Care RFP to emphasize projects aimed at improving health care delivery. While the 2013 Safety Net RFP will continue to fund projects that seek to increase access to adequate and affordable health coverage, we will also look for opportunities to support and spread improvements in quality health care, develop innovative models of care and patient-centered approaches.

At a recent Institute of Health Care Improvement Summit, Maureen Bisogano talked of “spreading improvements so that all patients everywhere get the best care and health possible is a technical challenge, a strategic challenge, and a moral imperative.”

As I reflect back on the past year I’m so proud of the projects we supported to ensure that all patients everywhere get the best care possible. And while we still have lots of work ahead, Health Forward will continue to pursue opportunities to improve the health of the most vulnerable in our community.

Health Reform

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