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The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

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DHMH Press Releases : patient centered medical homes



Governor's Office News Release

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (January 12, 2011) - The demand by primary care physicians to take part in Maryland's first Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) program has been extraordinary. Out of 180 applicants, 61 physician practices have been invited to participate in the three year pilot program. This pilot will help Maryland set the stage for a new model of patient treatment focusing on improved patient care, rewarding physicians for the quality of care they provide and controlling costs.

"We are committed to improving patient's health, lowering costs and enhancing the primary care workplace. Patient centered medical homes and preventative care models can help us accomplish these goals," Lt. Governor Brown said. "We believe in health care reform and the providers who have stepped up to join this program. Together, we can make Maryland one of the healthiest States in the nation."

PCMH is an innovative approach to the delivery of health care where patient-centered care is administered by a team of health care professionals led and coordinated by a primary care physician. Enhanced access, expanded hours, telephone and email communications, coupled with an emphasis on prevention and wellness, result in improved quality of care and fewer emergency room visits and expensive hospitalizations. Primary care providers receive additional reimbursement for providing these services and the opportunity to share in the savings from reduced costs. Similar programs throughout the nation report high patient and provider satisfaction.

"This launch is Maryland's first step in changing how health care is delivered to both healthy people and the chronically ill," said John M. Colmers, outgoing Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary. "By focusing on the whole patient and elevating the importance of primary care providers we will improve access, lower costs and as a result improve the quality of care and the patient experience."

The 61 practices selected serve adult and pediatric populations throughout Maryland. Practice sites that have been invited to participate include a CRNP -directed practice, solo and small physician owned practices, Federally-Qualified Health Centers, hospital-owned practices, and the faculty-based practices.

Legislation creating the Maryland Multi-Payer Patient Centered Medical Home Program (MMPP) passed the General Assembly in April 2010 and was championed by Lieutenant Governor Anthony G. Brown. The legislation resulted from the work of the Maryland Health Quality and Cost Council's and its PCMH Workgroup, established by Governor Martin O'Malley and chaired by Lt. Governor Brown and Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) Secretary John M. Colmers.

"The launch of the Maryland Multi-Payer PCMH Program, is a first step in elevating the importance of primary care and primary care providers in improving quality and lowering costs," said Ben Steffen, Director, Center for Information and Analysis, Maryland Health Care Commission.

Development of the pilot project was guided by the Council's PCMH Workgroup composed of more than 100 participants and chaired by Kathleen White, Ph.D., R.N., C.N.A.A., B.C., Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. Council members Roger Merrill, MD of Perdue Farms and Barbara Epke Senior Vice-President of Lifebridge served as active participants in the Workgroup.

The pilot program includes participation from CareFirst, Aetna, CIGNA, Coventry, UnitedHealthcare, and Maryland Medicaid. Large employers have strongly endorsed this model of primary care. The state employee health plan, the state high risk pool (MHIP) and large employers will also participate.

Announcement of the participating practices is the first implementation step for the program. Practices will participate in a Learning Collaborative supported by University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University. The learning collaborative will enable practices to implement the model and achieve recognition from NCQA.