Statewide initiative will impact local health care

GLENS FALLS - Yet again, the folks with Warrensburg and Chestertown roots who established affordable, accessible rural health care in New York State are in the limelight.

Hudson Headwaters Health Network founder Dr. John Rugge and his medical associates hosted Gov. David Paterson and state Health Commissioner Dr. Richard Daines April 1 at the Health Network's Broad St. clinic for a press conference to announce a new health care initiative.

Paterson and Daines announced a regional demonstration project, bankrolled by $4.5 million in state Medicaid funding over the next 18 months.

The initiative will focus on preventative care and engender collaboration between health care providers and insurance companies, they said.

The emphasis on preventative care not only promotes better health among its patients, but saves money in the long run for the state by avoiding hospitalization or emergency-center care, Paterson and Daines said.

This initiative, the Medical Home demonstration project, includes hiring health care case managers and nurses who keep in close contact with patients, reminding them of appointments, coordinating care with physicians, specialists, and other providers. The initiative also provides some patient health-education measures.

The initiative, which also standardizes insurance company reimbursement at a higher than prevailing level, required some enabling legislation that circumvented anti-trust laws.

Rugge said Monday that such legislation was successfully passed into law.

Rugge said the initiative boils down to establishing a simplified, standardized solution to providing and paying for health care, with a better outcome.

Paying a little more up front for preventative care saves a lot later on, he said. The initiative also seeks to reduce duplicated or uncoordinated care that hampers patient outcomes, he said.

"To get our governor to personally attend to these issues is important, and I'm glad Hudson Headwaters can be a part of this effort," he said. "Providers and payers statewide now have the opportunity for leadership in health care reform."

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