HHS grants for Medicaid systems focus on IT

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HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt last week awarded $103 million to 27 states across the country to fund implementation of new ways to improve Medicaid efficiency, economy and quality of care.

The funds has been issued to back roll innovative systems to get more value out of the money they spend providing healthcare to their low-income elderly, children and disabled citizens. Health information technology are a top priority as a way to improve the system overall, and especially to reduce medical errors.

These Medicaid “transformation grants” are a part of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA) which, as intended, are being distributed now through the end of fiscal 2008. This initial award totals $103 million and will be followed later in the year with a second solicitation for the remaining $47 million. The funding allotments will be issued over the next two years.

“These transformation grants express the core goal of this administration to give states the kind of flexibility they need to deliver high quality care in an efficient and economical way,” Secretary Leavitt said in a released statement. “With these grants states can streamline and modernize their systems, stabilize the exponential growth of the program and protect it into the future.”

In part, the funds will support more widespread use of electronic healthcare records that can be accessed by whole treatment teams, a move within the medical community to improve quality of care and reduce the potential for medical errors.

The grant funding may be used in the following areas:

  • Implementation of information technology (including electronic health records, clinical decision support tools or e-prescribing programs) with an emphasis on reducing errors;
  • Improving rates of collection from estates of amounts owed under Medicaid;
  • Reducing waste, fraud, and abuse under Medicaid;
  • Increasing the utilization of generic drugs through education programs and other incentives;
  • 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 today vary in amount depending on each state’s application, HHS said. More information: www.cms.hhs.gov/MedicaidTransGrants.