HHS awards $52 million in Medicaid transformation grants
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reported that 16 U.S. states and Puerto Rico were awarded nearly $52 million to fund research and design new ways to improve Medicaid efficiency, economy and quality of care.

Each state will use the funds to implement innovative systems to get more value out of the money spent providing healthcare to their low-income elderly, children and disabled citizens.

Congress approved a total of $150 million for the Medicaid transformation grants in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, to be distributed over fiscal years 2007 and 2008. In addition to this award, $98 million in grants that were distributed last January to 26 states.

According to HHS, the transformation grants were awarded for proposals that included:

•    Reducing patient error rates through the implementation of interoperable health information technology (electronic health records, clinical decision support tools or e-prescribing programs);
•    Improving rates of collection from estates of amounts owed under Medicaid;
•    Reducing waste, fraud, and abuse under Medicaid, such as reducing improper payment rates;
•    Increasing the utilization of generic drugs through education programs and other incentives. This reduces Medicaid expenditures for covered outpatient drugs, particularly in the categories of greatest drug utilization;
•    Improving access to primary and specialty physician care for the uninsured using integrated university-based hospital and clinic systems; and
•    Implementation of a medication risk management program as part of a drug use review program.

The awards granted vary in amount depending on each state’s application. Matching funds are not required for these special grants, HHS said.