Health systems, agencies team up to win $17 million federal grant to improve care for Oregonians

June 15, 2012
It’s a move that will help transform the delivery of health care in Oregon. Major health care providers and local government agencies in the tri-county area have worked together to secure a $17.3 million Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Health Care Innovation Awards grant. The funds will be used by the Tri-County Medicaid Collaborative to further its development of a Medicaid Coordinated Care Organization, or CCO.

The project is one of 81 recipients announced nationally today, and the only one based in Oregon. All were awarded for compelling new ideas that deliver better care and better health at lower costs to people enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP.

“It is great to see the federal government’s commitment to transforming care for Oregonians through providers and health plans partnering with the community to coordinate and redesign services for Medicaid members,” said Bruce Goldberg, director, Oregon Health Authority.

The Center for Outcomes Research and Education, or CORE, at Providence Portland Medical Center coordinated the grant application and will be accountable for administering it. The CCO project is a partnership of  Providence Health & Services, Adventist Health, CareOregon, Kaiser Permanente, Legacy Health, Oregon Health and Science University, Tuality Healthcare, Central City Concern, Multnomah County, Clackamas County, and Washington County.

“Providence Health & Services is pleased to be awarded this grant on behalf of the collaborative, “said Greg Van Pelt, chief executive for Providence in Oregon. “We are glad we are able to utilize the expertise of our Center for Outcomes Research and Education to make this opportunity possible. This grant will help fund the priority care innovations that the tri-county partners are now working to embed in the clinical care model.”

The project will integrate care delivery for Medicaid and Medicare/Medicaid dual-eligible beneficiaries through cooperation among traditional health care competitors in the tri-county area.

The program will include a registry with real-time alerts that will enable the coordination of care across all service sites, standardize discharge and transition processes from hospitals to primary care, emergency room navigation services to divert non-urgent cases to primary care and intensive patient support services through community-based and cross-disciplinary care teams.

These efforts should result in reduced use of emergency rooms, fewer avoidable hospital readmissions and improved access to more appropriate and cost-effective levels of health care services, resulting in better care for those served. Over time, improving the health of the population is anticipated to save $32.5 million.

During the three-year span of the grant, the program will train an estimated 54 workers and create an estimated 62 jobs. The new workers will include community outreach experts, emergency department navigators, a survey processing team and qualitative interviewers.  

“This award launches us on our regional journey to develop a better health care system,” said David Labby, interim chief medical officer for the Tri-County Medicaid Collaborative and grant project director. “There are many ideas for how care could be improved that were not included in the grant, but this work sets a number of pilot projects in motion that will lay a sturdy foundation for the work we will be doing from here on.”

Last November, the CMS Innovation Center issued a $1 billion challenge asking for ideas that would change how care is provided to people served by Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP. Through the Health Care Innovation Awards initiative, the CMS Innovation Center received thousands of applications, representing 10,000 organizations throughout the nation. Combined with the 81 grants announced today, awards have now been made to 107 innovation projects that are designed to save the health care system an estimated $1.9 billion over the next three years.