Berkshire MassHealth providers to share $1.5 million in state grants


Health care providers in the Berkshires will share a total of $1.5 million in state grants to help them more efficiently and effectively provide services to patients in need.

The Infrastructure and Capacity Building grants, which total $23 million to 61 MassHealth providers across the state, were announced late Thursday by the administration of Gov. Deval Patrick.

"Massachusetts is home to some of the world's most highly engaged and innovative health care providers," Patrick said in a prepared statement. "Investments like this will help our hospitals and health centers provide cost-effective, patient-centered care to communities across the Commonwealth."

The grants will fund initiatives by Community Health Programs and Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington and Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield.

The largest sum, $620,000, will go to BMC for outreach and enrollment. Fairview will receive more than $584,000 for medical home transformation, and CHP received three grants totaling nearly $310,000 for separate initiatives: outreach and enrollment, medical home transformation and developing integrated acute and post-acute networks.

The grant funding supports the development and implementation of best practices, cost-containment and quality improvement initiatives. Recipients were also required to submit a plan to connect and use the Mass HIWay, the state's electronic health record secure delivery service.

"This year's new technology requirements will help place Massachusetts at the forefront of health care IT while driving down inefficiencies in care," Secretary of Health and Human Services John Polanowicz said in the news release. "This grant will help establish links between diverse health care providers and enable hospitals and community health centers across the Commonwealth to quickly access accurate health information, reducing costs, improving patient care and saving lives."

The funding represents a 63 percent increase over last year, and allows MassHealth to provide more resources to hospitals and community health centers across the state. Funding was included in the fiscal 2014 state budget and the awards are supported by federal matching funds.

The funding is designed to support one of five priority areas at hospitals and community health centers that further health care quality and cost-containment goals. Projects included developing fully integrated delivery systems of health care; implementing alternatives to fee-for-service payments that promote system sustainability through value based purchasing, enhanced data analytics and quality performance measurement capabilities; improving health outcomes and quality for patients with high-risk conditions; enhancing outreach and enrollment for subsidized and non-subsidized health insurance programs; and building strategic business and operations capacity.

"MassHealth is committed to providing the Commonwealth's most vulnerable populations with critical health care services in the communities where they live," said MassHealth Director Kristin Thorn. "With this grant funding, hospitals and health centers that serve MassHealth members will be able to enhance the quality of their services and help keep communities healthy."


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