Louisiana Healthcare Providers Boost Patient Outcomes, Save Costs with Quality Blue

BATON ROUGE, La. – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana’s Quality Blue programs continue driving better health results while reining in costs.

Data from the second year of Blue Cross’ Quality Blue Value Partnerships program, in which healthcare providers can earn financial incentives if they successfully improve their patients’ health outcomes and cut spending, shows enrolled providers saved an average of 2.8% of their total healthcare costs during the past year, with the most successful savings reaching 6.25%.

The data also shows that Blue Cross customers who are seeing Quality Blue doctors had overall fewer hospital stays and ER visits, and they were more likely to have recommended preventive care like colorectal cancer screenings or mammograms, than customers seeing other doctors.

“Our Quality Blue programs have gotten great results in a fairly short period of time,” said Dr. Paul Murphree, Blue Cross interim chief medical officer. “Through the strong partnerships we are building with healthcare providers around the state, we have a real opportunity to improve Louisiana’s historically poor health outcomes and hold the line on costs.”

The Quality Blue providers are having regular talks with Blue Cross clinical staff about how to get their mutual customers – Blue Cross members who are their patients – to top-quality, cost-effective care, Murphree added. For example, doctors will ask how much the same test costs at different facilities before referring a patient. “We have a team that helps identify opportunities for both quality and cost, and I believe it is one of the best in the country,” Murphree said.

The seven Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) enrolled in the program from 2015-2016 were: Baton Rouge Clinic, Baton Rouge General Physicians Group, Gulf South Quality Network, Health Leaders Network, Ochsner Health Network, The Family Doctors and Willis Knighton Physician Network.

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Proponents of Healthy Louisiana tout insurance gains and cost savings from Medicaid expansion in hopes of holding off cuts

Since Medicaid was expanded in Louisiana under the Affordable Care Act last July, more than 408,000 Louisianans have gained access to medical care, according to Gov. John Bel Edwards. That’s just one of many big, positive numbers the Democratic governor is touting at a time when the future of the ACA is in doubt and funding—both at the federal and state levels—is in limbo.

Though champions of Medicaid expansion like the governor could cheer the failure of House Republicans to move an ACA repeal and replace plan forward in late March, there’s no question that significant changes to the act—and possible outright abolishment—are on the horizon. Meanwhile, supporters such as the Louisiana Association of Health Plans worry the program could take a funding hit in the legislative session that began on April 10.

“From a budget standpoint, that is going to be the most critical factor as we go into the next legislative session. … Because the governor and the Legislature said there will be no new taxes, the only way to balance the budget then is to offset with cuts or just find a way to do things differently,” says Jeff Drozda, CEO of LAHP, the state trade association for Louisiana’s health benefits industry.

With lawmakers facing an estimated $400 million budget shortfall for the fiscal year that begins on July 1, cuts are going to have to be made somewhere in the budget, and health care spending is always at risk. If Healthy Louisiana—as the state’s program for Medicaid and LaCHIP recipients is known (formerly called Bayou Health until it was rebranded by the Edwards administration about a year ago)—loses any funding, Drozda says a few areas will likely suffer.

“It would come in terms of services to the Healthy Louisiana recipients and as well as decreased incentive payments and quality payments to the physicians,” he says. “We’ve committed to the governor and to the health secretary that we want to be part of the solution, so we just hope that it does not have to come to cutting services or provider payments.”

In an effort to advocate for Healthy Louisiana and stave off cuts during the session, LAHP has launched an outreach effort highlighting the human and community impact it has in the state. The governor, meanwhile, is encouraging Louisianans to share personal stories about how their lives have been positively impacted by the Medicaid expansion via his website. The governor and state Department of Health also say $184 million has been saved by the Medicaid expansion—money that Edwards contends will help fund education, the TOPS college scholarship program and partner hospitals across the state.

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Baton Rouge Area Foundation Receives $250,000 Grant from UnitedHealthcare to Help with Relief and Recovery Efforts from the Floods in Southeast Louisiana

BATON ROUGE, La. (April 6, 2017) – UnitedHealthcare has donated $250,000 to the Baton Rouge Area Foundation to support five organizations that are helping with Southeast Louisiana’s long-term, sustainable recovery after the devastating floods of 2016.

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation – in response to the devastation caused by torrential rains that damaged more than 100,000 homes and displaced thousands of families – established the Louisiana Flood Relief Fund to help support the immediate needs of people and businesses affected by the floods and aid in the long-term recovery of Southeast Louisiana.

The foundation will use the grant to support five organizations already working to help people affected by the floods: SBP (formerly St. Bernard Project), Mid City Redevelopment Alliance, the Louisiana First Foundation, Southern University Law Center and Woman’s Hospital Mammography Coach. The grant is part of UnitedHealthcare’s ongoing effort to identify and support organizations in Louisiana that help people live healthier lives.

“We are grateful for the support of UnitedHealthcare, as this grant comes at a critical time in our efforts to get people back into their homes and help re-open businesses,” said John Davies, president and CEO the Baton Rouge Area Foundation. “There is still much work to be done, and these recipient organizations are making a positive impact in our community.”

The $250,000 grant announcement was made in Baton Rouge at the Mid City Redevelopment Alliance, where First Lady Donna Edwards and UnitedHealthcare employees joined community volunteers to help load a truck filled with construction materials to repair damaged storefronts in the area. Attendees at the event also included representatives from each organization receiving a grant, UnitedHealthcare executives and employees, and community volunteers.

“It is wonderful to see the great work that can be achieved when private and public organizations work together,” said Louisiana First Lady Donna Edwards. “I am pleased to be here today with UnitedHealthcare, Baton Rouge Area Foundation and their partners in helping our community rebuild its businesses, its homes and its infrastructure after these devastating floods.”

Mid City Redevelopment Alliance will receive $100,000 to help launch its “Welcome Home” program focused on rebuilding and restoring homes and businesses in the Baton Rouge area through education, and façade- and neighborhood-improvement grants.   

SBP will receive $100,000 to assist in rebuilding homes. Through its local hub, SBP trains organizations on how to rebuild homes more effectively and efficiently. SBP provides direct gutting and rebuilding services, technical support, capacity building and best practices to other recovery organizations.

“The grant from UnitedHealthcare will make a direct impact on how quickly business owners can re-open their doors and homeowners can move back into their homes,” said Zack Rosenburg, co-founder and CEO, SBP. “Our goal is to eliminate the unnecessary suffering associated with a prolonged recovery. The best way to do that is to ensure that it is prompt and efficient, but that does not happen without help and people working together to expedite recovery efforts.”

The Louisiana First Foundation will receive $25,000 to continue coordinating resources for state and local governments, private nonprofit groups and Louisiana residents. The Southern University Law Center will receive $15,000 to continue its work with the Disaster Recovery Law Clinic to provide legal help to people suffering in the aftermath of the flooding.

Also, the Woman’s Hospital Mammography Coach will receive $10,000 to support its mobile coach that makes mammography more accessible. The vehicle travels to 15 parishes in Louisiana visiting churches, schools and community centers to provide women with breast-imaging services.

“These organizations are doing tremendous work in helping rebuild our community after these devastating floods and are making a positive impact in the lives of so many people,” said Allison Young, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Louisiana. “We are grateful for the opportunity to work with these organizations to help build a stronger, more resilient Louisiana.”

UnitedHealthcare serves more than 880,000 Louisianans enrolled in employer-sponsored, individual and Medicare health plans with a network of 164 hospitals and more than 17,000 physicians and other care providers statewide.