ARCHIVED  March 1, 1997

Colorado Access balloons in Medicaid membership

DENVER – Colorado Access, the state’s largest Medicaid managed-care plan, recently marked its first anniversary.Fourteen months ago, the nonprofit HMO was launched to offer health-care services to Medicaid recipients in 12 counties along the Front Range, including Weld County. It now serves almost 40,000 members and represents more than one-half of all Medicaid managed care in Colorado.
“I think our performance in the first year has been remarkable,´ said Dr. David West, executive director. “When I look at what’s happening nationally and what we’ve done, I couldn’t be more pleased.”
As a “safety-net” provider, Colorado Access serves low-income and indigent patients through a statewide system of hospitals, clinics, physicians and other health-care providers. Services include primary, specialty and preventive care, hospitalization, emergency care and lab and X-ray as well as access to home health, various therapies, mental health services and health education.
West said Access is representative of Medicaid’s shift to managed care as a way to reduce costs. State statistics for Medicaid spanning a decade indicate reasons for the change.
West reported that in Colorado in 1986, Medicaid spent $360 million, served 150,000 people, financed 7 percent of pregnancies and used 7 percent of the state’s budget. Ten years later, in 1996, Medicaid spent $1.4 billion, served 280,000 people, financed 35 percent of pregnancies and absorbed 17 percent of the state budget.
“When you look at a trend like that, you know we need a solution,” West said. “Everyone’s looking for the magic bullet that’s not coming, but a vehicle that will allow some movement toward saving money and improving care is managed care.
“Thanks to the combined knowledge and expertise of our partner organizations, we can provide high-quality, cost-effective care for those with Medicaid coverage,” he said. “It is extremely rare for this sort of program to succeed, and I attribute our success to the people we’re working with. They have the foresight to realize that we can do this ourselves and do it cooperatively or let someone come in and do it to us.”
West said Colorado Access exceeded expectations for enrollment in its first year and has plans for growth. He said they will expand in counties where they already are active and move into new areas as well.
Their newest member is Total Health Group, a Colorado Springs MSO with 47 physicians affiliated.Hospice launches expansion
GREELEY – Hospice of Northern Colorado Inc. has announced the planned addition of three rooms to Hospice’s existing eight in-patient rooms on the fourth floor of North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley.
“We have the only in-patient unit of this kind in Northern Colorado,´ said Pam Lewis, director of community relations for HNC. “We leased the space from the Medical Center, decorated the rooms with individual themes to give them the look and feeling of home and staffed them with our people.”
Lewis said the new rooms, which should be ready in May, will accommodate patients in HNC’s indigent-care program.
“The addition will help us serve people who can’t afford the $75-a-day room charge,” she said.PacifiCare acquires FHP
FORT COLLINS – PacifiCare Health Systems Inc. completed its $2.2 billion acquisition of FHP International Corp. last month, making it the nation’s fifth-largest health-maintenance organization.
The combined company will serve almost four million commercial and Medicaid members in 15 states and Guam and pull in revenues expected to total $10 billion in 1997.
“Our employees are very excited,´ said Dr. Michael Paddack, FHP regional medical director. “PacifiCare has a clear direction and vision with top-notch leadership. We think it will be good for everyone.”
Paddock said the biggest change FHP members are likely to see is a new membership card mailed to them in the next few months.
The deal had been in the works since last August, but Paddock said FHP had been looking for a buyer for a couple of years.
“FHP wasn’t strapped for cash,” he said. “But it wasn’t flush with money, either. It needed an infusion of cash.”
The trend of acquisitions and mergers in managed care will probably continue, in Paddack’s opinion. Although PacifiCare will probably hold steady for awhile.”It’s a natural evolution,” he said. ” I compare it to the auto industry. Seventy years ago there were a hundred or so car companies, now there are three major U.S. companies. I expect the number of HMOs in Colorado will drop to five or so within the next five years.”Hospital, health district open clinic
FORT COLLINS – Poudre Health Services District will open a new health-care facility at 2925 S. College Ave. in May.
Half of the 7,500-square-foot space, located in Palmer Plaza, will house Health Bridge. The district will lease the other half to Poudre Valley Hospital for its new HEALTHAware Library.
The health assessment and education center will offer health-risk appraisals, clinical preventive screenings and educational materials and services, said Jack Vogt, preventive-services director and coordinator of the project.
“Over one-half of diseases contracted could be prevented, but patients need the tools and information to limit risks of adverse developments.”
One tool the center will use is risk appraisal. Vogt said the scientifically validated technique has been developed over 20 years to determine a person’s risk of contracting and possibly dying from certain diseases. In most cases a patient can receive a full appraisal within a few hours and get the results the same day.
The center also will offer a wide variety of screening tests to help identify potential disease in its early stage. Tests for several cancers, high blood pressure and high cholesterol will be among those available.
Vogt will be joined by a full-time health educator, nurse practitioner, and registered nurse as well as part-time consultants in nutrition and other areas to be brought in as
needed. Armi Hall, spokesman for Poudre Valley Hospital, said the resource library will be more convenient for people because of its location.
“This will be a resource library well-suited to the public,” he said. “We’ll have books, magazines, computers and staff available, and people can use their Fort Collins Library card to check out materials.”
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DENVER – Colorado Access, the state’s largest Medicaid managed-care plan, recently marked its first anniversary.Fourteen months ago, the nonprofit HMO was launched to offer health-care services to Medicaid recipients in 12 counties along the Front Range, including Weld County. It now serves almost 40,000 members and represents more than one-half of all Medicaid managed care in Colorado.
“I think our performance in the first year has been remarkable,´ said Dr. David West, executive director. “When I look at what’s happening nationally and what we’ve done, I couldn’t be more pleased.”
As a “safety-net” provider, Colorado Access serves low-income and…

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