FRANKFORT – Kentucky has been chosen to collaborate on an ambitious project to design better ways to provide responsible medical care to so-called "super-utilizers." They are people who frequently use emergency rooms for regular health care instead of lower-cost alternatives.
Gov. Steve Beshear announced Wednesday that the National Governors Association has selected Kentucky, along with six other states, to participate in a collaborative effort to design and improve state-level health systems to ensure better provision of coordinated and targeted services for these super-utilizers.
"I'm proud Kentucky has been chosen to participate in this important program," Beshear said in a news release. "Across the nation, an understanding has been growing that we must focus our efforts on providing the best in coordinated care, helping to direct individuals who may be using more expensive, less effective services to more cost-efficient preventive services that provide better health outcomes in the long run. It's by achieving these outcomes that we will build a healthier future for Kentucky."
Developing or enhancing systems of care for super-utilizers can enable state officials to address rising Medicaid expenditures while improving quality of care and health. Kentucky Medicaid spent more than $219 million on emergency room use in 2012. In that 12-month span, 4,400 Medicaid recipients used the ER 10 or more times, including a recipient who visited the ER 121 times and another who used 30 different ERs, the news release said.
The Developing State-Level Capacity to Support Super-Utilizers policy academy is designed to assist states in creating the regulatory environment, data systems, workforce, financing structures and stakeholder relationships to support the delivery of high-quality and comprehensive services for super-utilizers. The selected states are Alaska, Colorado, Kentucky, New Mexico, Puerto Rico, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
"Kentucky has too long lagged behind in health rankings, and now is the time for us to begin truly moving the needle in the right direction," Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes said in the same news release. "By participating in this national effort, we can learn what has worked for other states and share Kentucky's experiences as well."