The task force implementing health care reform in the U.S. Virgin Islands will focus on developing a territorial wellness policy as one of the five priority areas it will focus on to improve the health care environment, Government House announced Wednesday.
The goals were discussed at a meeting of the Healthcare Reform Task Force, at a meeting Friday at Government House on St. Croix. Lt. Gov. Gregory Francis chairs the task force.
The other four priorities are implementation of a super-utilizer program to identify and address the needs of high-cost claimants; insurance options for non-Medicaid eligible/non-employer sponsored residents; a media campaign targeted at small business participation in the insurance premium tax credit program; and continued work on the Patient Centered Medical Home model, which also includes integrating electronic health records.
The Department of Human Services is continuing to expand the Medicaid Assistance Program expansion and is implementing a new Medicaid eligibility and enrollment system by June 2015. The territory’s decision to pursue Medicaid expansion instead of a health insurance exchange will allow more uninsured residents to have access to health care services, since income eligibility levels for certain groups has been raised.
As part of their efforts to reach and enroll the Medicaid eligible population, the department is conducting a direct mail campaign and will soon launch a media campaign to inform families already enrolled in the SNAP program of their new eligibility for MAP, Francis was told.
Additionally DHS has opened its enrollment offices on Saturdays during August to accommodate services for the expanded population. According to the DHS, approximately 3,700 children and 200 pregnant women have become eligible for MAP since the new Express Lane Eligibility Plan went into effect Aug. 1.
Lennox Zamore of the Department of Human Services updated the task force on the Medicaid expansion rollout and the status of the Medicaid Management Information System, which is a key component of the territory’s health care reform agenda.
“The system is working well,” Zamore said. “Claims that would have taken weeks to process are now processed in as little as two days. It is amazing to watch.”
After discussion with representatives from the Gov. Juan F. Luis Memorial Hospital and the Schneider Regional Medical Center regarding the ongoing costs of uninsured care, Francis recommended a collaborative public information campaign to advise the community of the health care services that are provided through the territory’s hospitals, federally qualified health care centers (East End Medical Center and Frederiksted Health Care Inc.) and the Department of Health. The proposed campaign is expected to support patient education and health literacy.