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DCH wants to get word out
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The Department of Community Health (DCH) requested $11.9 billion in total funds (state, federal and agency funds) for the FY2009 general budget. Of the total funds, $2.7 billion are state general funds, representing a 3.4 percent increase of what was appropriated in the FY08 budget, and a 9.7 percent increase in state funds as compared with the FY08 budget.

Although much of DCH’s budget request is driven by the traditional health care costs of Medicaid growth, DCH is also requesting three sets of significant enhancement requests for FY09. The first set of enhancements involves DCH’s continued implementation of various health information and health consumerism initiatives. The second set of enhancements involves additional slots for the independent care waiver program, which provides services and care for severely disabled consumers as an alternative to nursing home care. The third set of enhancements consists of a package of various provider rate increases for the Medicaid and PeachCare programs.

The health information technology initiatives were requested in both the Administration program and health care access and improvement program. In the administration program, DCH requested $750,000 to fund an additional two to three health information pilot programs, such as electronic medical record programs and e-prescribing technology.

In the health care access program, DCH requested an additional $750,000 as part of the second phase of the implementation of its health care information transparency Web site. The main goal of the health care information transparency Web site is to increase access to health care information for consumers, making information available about quality of care, costs, and availability of services. The Web site will also include information for users on disease management and wellness. The Healthcare Information Transparency Web site is scheduled to go live in January.

DCH has requested $2.2 million in state funds for the independent care waiver program, which will be matched by an additional $4 million in federal funds. This request will add 50 new slots to the community-based waiting list, and will add 100 slots to move eligible members from institutions to the community. The latter request is part of Georgia’s Money Follows the Person grant that was awarded from the federal government to Georgia. This grant shifts Medicaid from its historical emphasis on institutional long-term care services to a new system that offers more choices for seniors and persons with disabilities.

DCH has also requested a set of provider rate enhancements. Many providers have not had rate increases in several years and DCH is beginning to update rates for providers. DCH is requesting rate increases for services such as inpatient and outpatient hospital care for trauma and non-trauma hospitals, physician rates, rates related to home health services and nursing homes, and rates for the independent care waiver program. The total state funds request for all of these rate enhancements is $41.7 million.

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