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Health care collaborative to receive $29 million in federal funds

Thursday, January 16, 2014 by Gene Davis

The Central Health Board of Managers gave a rare standing ovation Wednesday night after hearing that Travis County’s new healthcare delivery system for low-income residents is the recipient of $29 million in federal funding.


With an additional $20.3 million in local matching funds, the Community Care Collaborative gets access to $49.3 million to tackle initiatives such as the creation of a disease management registry. The CCC is a voluntary collaborative effort between Central Health, Seton Healthcare Family and other partners to provide a “coordinated continuum of services” to low-income residents.


“This is a monumental accomplishment,” said Brenda Coleman-Beattie, Central Health Board of Managers chairperson. “We are so proud to hear this news that shows our commitment to more health care for the people who need it most.”


To be eligible for the federal funding, CCC had to submit reports detailing its plans to transform healthcare for low-income residents. The reports had 63 milestones, all of which the Texas Health and Human Services Commission accepted and approved for payment.


“I’m particularly pleased and proud (we received full funding) because the CCC represents health care transformation in such a profound way,” said Sarah Cook, Medicaid Waiver director at Central Health.


The milestones revolved around more than a dozen CCC projects. In addition to creating a disease management registry, the projects include expanding primary care hours at certain sites and growing the specialty care capacity for pulmonology. Pulmonology deals with treatment of diseases of the lungs and respiratory tract.


“We are trying to make care more accessible for the patient, better for the patient, and also more cost effective,” Cook said.


The federal funding, which Cook said should be available in several weeks, comes through the 1115 Healthcare Transformation Waiver. The waiver lasts five years and funds two statewide pools of approximately $29 billion.


The waiver, which is in its third year, splits Texas into 20 districts. Region 7 includes Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Fayette, Lee and Travis Counties. In total, Region 7 received $102 million in local and federal dollars during this latest round of funding; University Medical Center Brackenridge received $25.4 million and Dell Children’s Medical Center received $6.5 million. The region has submitted a total of 77 projects for approval, with a combined value of more than $700 million.


“This is a huge amount of money to expand care and provide better care for people,” Cook said. “It’s unheard of.”


Central Health spokeswoman Sarah Malm believes the $49.3 million in funding for CCC builds on the momentum created by Proposition 1, which approved a 5-cent tax increase for Central Health.


“The commitment that Central Health made to the voters when it increased its effective tax rate was that part of those funds were about transformation,” she said. “This is really where the rubber meets the road in terms of maximizing these federal dollars with a local match. This was just great news to know that we are not only on track, but this is taking root.”

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