State Health Commissioner reveals details of pilot health care program

CHESTERTOWN - Health clinics and hospitals in the Adirondack region will be able to offer more attentive primary care when a state pilot program is launched this summer, the state's top medical official said Wednesday.

State Health Commissioner Richard Daines revealed details of the program as he visited the Chester-Horicon Health Center and talked with Dr. John Rugge, founder of the center and 10 similar ones in the Adirondack region.

Rugge helped Daines and other state officials engineer the new Adirondack Region Medical Home Pilot, which is expected to boost primary care and disease prevention while encouraging more attentive care for those with chronic diseases, Daines said Wednesday.

Preliminary studies have indicated such an approach will improve public health while reducing the costs of ever-rising medical expenses paid by the state and health insurance companies.

The state, insurers and health maintenance organizations will all be contributing to the cost of boosted payments for primary care and preventive services to hospitals, clinics and private practices throughout the Adirondacks .

Participating primary care providers include Hudson Headwaters Health Network health centers in Warren and Essex counties, Inter-Lakes Health in Ticonderoga, Smith House Health Care Center in Willsboro, Elizabethtown Community Hospital, Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital and doctors in the Plattsburgh area, and the Adirondack Medical Center based in Saranac Lake .

Participating payers include the state - through Medicaid and its civil service program - and private insurers BlueShield of Northeastern New York, Empire Blue Cross, Excellus, Fidelis Care, MVP Healthcare, and United Healthcare.

The pilot program is expected to strengthen primary care provided by family doctors to keep people healthier and minimize hospital care, Daines said.

Rugge and Daines said that the program was designed to encourage health care that was comprehensive, coordinated and family-centered.

"This state has far too much inpatient cost," Daines said. "We have high rates of preventable hospitalization-it's time we shift our focus to primary preventative care."

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