« June 2013 Issue

Voices for Better Health Rolls Out in Four States

Earlier this month, Community Catalyst launched Voices for Better Health, a new initiative funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies to advance patient-centered care for the nation's 10 million dual eligibles, older adults and people with disabilities who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. This project builds on past efforts with a focus on improving care for dually eligible adults.

Dual eligibles are generally sicker and poorer than most of the population, frequently bouncing in and out of hospitals and nursing homes. They rely heavily on supportive services, yet must navigate our fragmented health care system -- multiple doctor's visits, prescription medications, hospital stays and medical tests-without sufficient assistance. This complex and confusing system comes with an enormous price tag. In addition to the physical and emotional toll on dual eligibles and their care givers, ineffective care costs more than $300 billion each year.

The Affordable Care Act created "demonstration projects," federally funded initiatives that allow states to develop new, innovative ways to provide high quality, integrated care to dual eligibles. Voices for Better Health is working to help shape these demonstration projects to ensure they serve the needs of this vulnerable population.

"The vision for integrated care is to create a more comprehensive approach," said Renee Markus Hodin, Voices for Better Health program director. "And to do that, we have to encourage better coordination among doctors, hospitals, care givers and the community services that older adults and people with disabilities rely on to stay healthy."

The demonstration projects are working to fundamentally change how care is provided to dual eligibles. Currently, more than 20 states are working on plans to improve the quality of care for dual eligibles while lowering costs. Addressing the cost of care is important, but it cannot overshadow the goal of improving the quality of care.

"There's no question we have to do something about increasing health care costs," said Hodin. "However, we should aim to control costs by improving the system for the highest need patients, instead of cutting benefits, provider payments and eligibility."

Voices for Better Health is partnering with state and local advocates in Michigan, New York, Ohio and Washington to ensure dual eligibles and their caregivers and health care advocates have the resources and expertise they need to engage in the policy debate at the state and federal levels.

"Voices for Better Health is about making sure the consumer voice is present throughout the demonstration projects, from the design phase to full implementation," said Hodin. "We're making sure the projects represent patient and family member priorities because we want these demonstrations to work. We think these projects have enormous potential for improving people's lives."

O N   T H E   W I R E

Jessica Curtis, Hospital Accountability Project director, told the Associated Press that hospitals continue to use unfair billing and debt collection practices, despite Affordable Care Act Provisions.

Jacquie Anderson has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer. Jacquie previously served as Director of State Advocacy. She has been with Community Catalyst for more than 15 years and brings more than 20 years of experience working with community organizations.

Community Catalyst released a report assessing the economic viability of midlevel dental providers. Midlevel dental providers practicing in Alaska and Minnesota cost their employers less than 30 percent of the revenue they generate.

The Prescription Access Litigation Project led a successful campaign urging the Supreme Court and Congress to end to pay-for-delay deals between brand name and generic drug manufacturers that prevent consumers from getting timely access to affordable prescription drugs.

Christine Barber, senior policy analyst, explained in The New York Times that given the high number of people unaware of their new health care options, advocates, providers and other stakeholders must work together to make enrollment a success.

In April the Community Catalyst Board and members of the staff joined together to celebrate the contributions of outgoing Board member and longtime supporter, Stephen Rosenfeld. Steve has been and continues to be a leading and powerful advocate for consumers in the health care reform movement.

In May, current Board member Wendy Warring and her husband Troyen Brennan hosted a fundraiser in their home in support of Community Catalyst. The event was a tremendous success and we are grateful to Wendy and Troy for their care and generosity.

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