State Health Commissioner, Partners Hail Benefits of New Model of Health Care for Adirondack Residents

Show Support for Governor Paterson's Budget Proposal for Adirondack Medical Home Pilot, which Focuses on Improved Health while Reducing Health Care Costs

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (Jan. 29,2009) – State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., joined representatives of health care networks, hospitals, health insurance plans and primary care advocates today in Plattsburgh to continue development of a new model of health care that will benefit both patients and providers in the Adirondack region.

The Adirondack Region Medical Home Pilot, developed by a group of local health care providers and other partners, would receive $4.5 million over two years through enhanced Medicaid reimbursement in Governor David A. Paterson's proposed budget. Providers would also benefit from enhanced reimbursement from the Empire Plan, the state employees health insurance program, and several commercial health plans expected to participate.

In return for the enhanced reimbursement, participating health care providers must meet a new standard of care that provides increased emphasis on primary and preventive care, improved coordination of care and management of chronic diseases, improved communication with patients – including patient reminders for check-ups and screenings – the use of electronic health records and electronic prescribing, and adhering to quality and safety standards.

"Too many New Yorkers develop serious health conditions and complications because they are not getting the kind of health care that prevents and manages those conditions before they become serious," said Commissioner Daines. "As a result, we have poorer health and a higher-than-average number of hospitalizations for preventable conditions, which also increases the cost of health care. The Adirondack Region Medical Home Pilot represents a new way of delivering health care with an emphasis on primary care that will improve the health of residents and ultimately reduce the cost of health care."

Dr. Daines noted that the enhanced reimbursement provided to doctors in the Medical Home Pilot will also help Adirondack communities recruit and retain physicians.

"Governor Paterson recognizes that New York's rural communities have a more difficult time attracting and keeping physicians," said Dr. Daines. "That's why he supported the Doctors Across New York program that provides loan forgiveness and practice support for physicians practicing in underserved areas and in part why he is supporting the Adirondack Regional Medical Home Pilot."

"Patients, primary care physicians, insurers, and the health-care delivery system will all benefit from the Adirondack Region Medical Home Pilot," said Stephens Mundy, president and CEO of Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital (CVPH) in Plattsburgh, which hosted today's meeting. "CVPH and its participating physicians are pleased to be part of this revolutionary approach to shaping the future of how medical care is provided."

"The Adirondack Region Medical Home Pilot is a bold effort to prove on a reasonably large scale that giving more attention and resources to primary care is our best bet for keeping down medical costs while also improving health," said John Rugge, M.D., CEO of Hudson Headwaters Health Network, an early leader in the development of the medical home project.

Senator Betty Little said, "A proactive approach emphasizing prevention and early intervention is the key to strengthening the health care system and reducing cost. I can think of no better place than the Adirondacks to launch this pilot program. We have a dedicated group of health care professionals who time and again have shown an extraordinary ability to overcome the unique challenges of providing care in a rural setting. This is an exciting opportunity for us and I thank Governor Paterson and Commissioner Daines for making this smart investment."

Assemblywoman Teresa R. Sayward said, "It is gratifying to see Governor Paterson and Commissioner Daines working with our North County healthcare providers to strengthen the availability of services to meet the health care needs of our rural residents."

Assemblywoman Janet L. Duprey said, "I am pleased that Governor Paterson recognizes our unique needs in terms of quality health care delivery in the North Country. My thanks to Commissioner Daines for his insights and for carrying this critical issue to Albany's attention. This is truly another positive step toward promoting easy access, coordination of care, quality services and cost effective health care to our residents ."

"County leaders applaud Governor Paterson for recognizing the unique needs of rural health care in the Adirondacks and his commitment to ensure that every family in this state, no matter whey they live, has access to the services they need to stay in good health," said Stephen J. Acquario, Executive Director of the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC). "Access to quality health care is essential to all New Yorkers, and it is critical to the long-term viability of any community. Our counties have seen first-hand the need to address the issues compromising access to primary health care in the Adirondacks and other rural areas of the state."

The Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY) is providing technical assistance for the health information technology component of the Adirondack Medical Home Pilot. "The Medical Society is greatly appreciative of the leadership of Governor Paterson and Commissioner Daines to advance the adoption of health information technology," said MSSNY Presdent Michael H. Rosenberg, M.D. "MSSNY is pleased to participate with physicians in the Plattsburgh, Saranac Lake, and greater Adirondack regions to facilitate the use of this technology in the implementation of a patient centered medical home demonstrations that will assure greater care coordination, enhanced quality, and improved outcomes for patients."

"Everyone talks about how the current health care system is broken and needs to be fixed," said Rod Boula, CEO of Elizabethtown Community Hospital in Essex County. "This is one way of being part of the solution. This is a program where everyone wins. Moreover, our hospital will be able to recruit primary care physicians who want to come here to practice medicine, earn a decent salary, and raise their families."

"Because of the current crisis in primary care and well-documented physician shortage in rural New York State, a new model is being proposed to support primary care," said Bill Viscardo, M.D., Vice President for Medical Affairs at the Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake. "The new model is the medical home, which promises increased access to care for patients and increased reimbursement for primary care physicians."

Nancy G. Groenwegen, President of the New York State Civil Service Commission, said, "Representing the State as the largest employer in the region, and as a large purchaser of health care for our employees and their dependents, the Department is pleased to support the Adirondack Medical Home Pilot. Governor Paterson has made it clear that reducing unnecessary costs in our employee benefit programs is a priority. We understand that improved access to high-quality, patient-centered primary care will, in the long run, reduce unnecessary complications of chronic diseases and will thereby reduce the long-term cost of providing health insurance to our employees. This pilot, if successful, will confirm that relatively small investments in primary care now, can add tremendous value by helping to reduce catastrophic costs later."

Medical Home Facts

  • The Adirondack Region Medical Home Pilot will provide a new model for the delivery of health care services that emphasizes the role of primary care. The pilot is expected to improve access to services, improve the quality of care, and lower costs over the long-term.
  • Under the pilot, primary care providers in the Adirondack Region of New York State will receive increased reimbursement in exchange for expanded responsibility for coordinating care, providing preventive care and managing chronic diseases. The increased reimbursement is expected to be offset by decreased costs from fewer hospital admissions, less frequent referrals to specialists, lower prescription costs, and overall better health.
  • Pilot participants are expected to include health care providers in 35 practices (representing 101 physicians and 76 physicians assistants and nurse practitioners), four hospitals, six commercial health plans and Medicaid, the State of New York, the Medical Society of the State of New York, and the New York State Association of Counties.
  • The New York State Department of Health will provide supervision and arrange for ongoing evaluation of the program.
  • The pilot is scheduled to begin in July 2009.