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Maine gets grant to lower health care costs

7:09 PM, Feb 22, 2013   |    comments
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PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER)- Maine's Department of Human Services will try to use millions in federal taxpayer dollars to find ways to save hundreds of millions more in health care costs.

The initiative is being called the Maine Innovation Model. The feds will give Maine 33-million dollars over the next three years to study all aspects of the system... And it's hoped that, when ideas are put in place, it could result in more than a billion dollars in health care savings over the same length of time... three years.

DHHS commssioner Mary Mahew says the 33 million dollar grant will help transform the way patients get health care in Maine. Mayhew says right now about 20 percent of Maine Care patients account for nearly 90 percent of program's costs.

'We have individuals who are using the emergency department as their oint of entry to the health care systems and there are some that are there, ten, 20, 30 times a month, said Mayhew.

Many of these patients have serious mental, substance abuse and chronic health programs which are driving up expenses. Part of the grant money will help develop a network for each individual patient.

'When someone is referred to a specialist, when someone has been admitted to the hospital, that their care is being coordinated out of that practice -- it's a combination of the physician, it's other providers, nurse care managers who are monitoring that individual and making sure the right care is being provided,' said Mayhew.

It should be noted that the 33-million dollars in grant money awarded to the state was made available through the Affordable Heath Care Act, which the Governor has spoken out against in the past. Commissioner Mayhew wouldn't comment on that directly, but she says the money is giving states the flexibility to manage their health care programs without federal oversight.

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