Medicaid managed care provding more specialists, more success

Telemedicine linking specialists to rural areas in Georgia where they are in short supply and offering patients “medical homes” to better coordinate their care are ways a Medicaid managed care company is trying to improve care for its members, the company’s chief medical officer said Tuesday.

A better linking of providers could help aid struggling rural hospitals, said Dr. William Alexander of Amerigroup Community Care of Georgia.

The company hosted a community breakfast in Augusta for local leaders and people serving Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids patients. Alexander said the company has come a long way since its first attempt to fill out a provider network in the area in 2006 met with some initial resistance among providers.

“It’s much better than it was almost 10 years ago but there are some counties where you might have specialists but it is not deep,” he said. “You have a couple here, a couple there.”

Providing better primary care through more coordinated and proactive care is part of the concept of the patient-centered medical home that Amerigroup has been pushing statewide for the last four years, he said. About 20 percent of its members, or about 71,000 of the 355,000, are in a patient-centered medical home but the company is pushing for more because it is seeing the benefits for all involved, Alexander said.

“Not only have our patient-centered medical home practices improved quality but they’ve decreased ER use, inpatient hospitalizations and also improved member satisfaction and provider satisfaction,” he said. “We believe in it. We’ve invested in it. And we’ve done the hard work with practices to help them transform.”

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