Partnership to help transform Medicaid system

Medicine and moneyUIC is one of only seven public universities across the nation to partner with its state Medicaid agency to create more efficient programs and save money.

UIC signed an intergovernmental agreement with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services to collaborate on the Medicaid Transformation Initiative, said Ann Patla, chief executive director of Medicaid Support Services at UIC.

Patla and Theresa Eagleson, state Medicaid director, gave an overview of the program to the university Board of Trustees at Thursday’s meeting in Chicago.

“The program increases UIC’s national reputation as it helps address one of the state’s most urgent needs: transforming the state Medicaid system,” Patla said.

“It aligns UIC’s research and educational missions with the immediate, practical needs of the state and expands federal funding opportunities.”

The university has worked with the state Medicaid agency on a variety of projects, but the new partnership “raises the bar on the strategic relationship between the state agency and university,” Patla said.

“We will have a much more significant role in implementing strategic initiatives.”

In May 2012, state legislators passed the Save Medicaid Access and Resources Together (SMART) Act, which outlines more than 60 ways to transform the state Medicaid program.

The state will provide funding to the university to implement changes to the Medicaid system, which provides health insurance to low-income individuals and families, elderly individuals and people who have disabilities.

“The health sciences colleges are fertile ground for faculty expertise in health policy issues,” Patla said.

The College of Pharmacy is one of the first health sciences colleges to get going on the project.

Since August, 26 pharmacists — many recent College of Pharmacy graduates — have worked on a medication review program that will save the state $180 million in its first year, Patla said.

“Those ‘savings’ will be used to meet other critical needs in the Medicaid program,” she said.

Pharmacists at UIC are working with pharmacists and physicians across the state to review the best treatment options for Medicaid patients who have been prescribed many different medications, Patla said.

“There’s a substantial number of people who are taking 20 different drugs,” she said. “There’s enough of a reason certainly to make a phone call to a physician or pharmacists and say, ‘Let’s take a look at those.’ It’s intended to improve the quality of care.”

An upcoming program will focus on utilization review, with UIC physicians reviewing medical procedures for Medicaid patients before they are completed, Patla said.

The partnership will give UIC researchers access to the state Medicaid database, which includes millions of claims filed by about 3 million people, Patla said.

“There’s a wealth of information in the database,” she said.

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