Iowa signs health care agreements

Over 85K Iowans registerd for the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan

Rod Boshart
Published: April 4 2014 | 3:30 pm - Updated: 7 April 2014 | 3:13 pm in

DES MOINES -- The state of Iowa has signed agreements with two large accountable care organizations to encourage healthy behaviors and improve health outcomes for thousands of Iowans on the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan, according to Iowa Department of Human Services officials.

The two major entities, University of Iowa Health Alliance LLC and UnityPoint Health Partners, have signed up to be accountable for the Wellness Plan population effective April 1, DHS officials said Friday. The state is engaged in discussions with other providers who may sign up soon.

“This is an exciting step in helping Iowans complete healthy behaviors,” said Jennifer Vermeer, Iowa Medicaid enterprise director. “By coordinating care for Wellness Plan members, we are working to ensure that patients get the right care at the right time, with the goal of spending health care dollars more wisely and with better outcomes.”

The accountable care organizations, or ACOs, are groups of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers, who have agreed to offer integrated care to patients. The goal of the agreements is to achieve better health results for Iowans, and foster accountability in their care, according to a DHS news release.

Under the agreements, health care providers assume financial risk to deliver high-quality outcomes for a defined patient population -- in this case, Iowa Wellness Plan members.

To date, more than 85,000 Iowans have signed up for the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan. Of those enrolled, more than 17,000 have a primary care provider affiliated with either the University of Iowa Health Alliance LLC or UnityPoint Health Partners, DHS officials said.

The state has aligned its ACO approach with Iowa’s major commercial health insurance payor, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield. This spreads value-based reimbursements across payors, allowing providers to make achievable, sustainable changes, according to the DHS news release.


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