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DCH and GaHIN Launch GeorgiaDirect to Automate Healthcare Referrals

GeorgiaDirectThis week,  the Health Information Technology Division (Health IT) of the Georgia Department of Community Health and the Georgia Health Information Network Inc. (GaHIN) launched GeorgiDirect, a free, secure e-mail, and easy-to use messaging service to automate health care referrals between patients, physicians, hospitals, laboratories and other authorized healthcare stakeholders.

The goal of GeorgiaDirect is to “better serve patients and increase efficiencies in health care across Georgia,” said former DCH Commission David A. Cook. Cook also stated, “This network – which should not be confused with a health insurance exchange – will literally transform health care in the years to come, delivering on our goal of a healthy Georgia through greater coordination of care, delivering better health outcomes, increasing administrative efficiencies and more. Additionally, privacy of health information is paramount to the department, and GeorgiaDirect is much more secure for the transmission of information than current methods.”

The more than 2,100 healthcare providers across Georgia who have registered for the free service are able transmit patient health information between authorized providers for a more efficient and secure exchange of patient data versus the current system of faxes, mail, couriers and telephones.

According to a press release by DCH, “GeorgiaDirect was developed using national standards from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s Direct Project.” GeorgiaDirect also enables healthcare providers to connect with other states, including Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Mississippi and Wisconsin. The goal is for GeorgiaDirect to expand and include more states so providers can obtain medical records when patients move to another part the country.

To learn more about GeorgiaDirect, you can watch this video or visit the GeorgiaDirect Web site.

 

 

Georgia Medicaid Providers Can Now Access HP Online Portal

Georgia Health PortalAccording to a press release issued by the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, currently enrolled and future Georgia Medicaid providers can now access the HP online portal to submit their attestation to become eligible for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Rate Increase. The initial enrollment period will last until July 31, 2013. When accessing the site, click on “Provider Information”, then select “Forms”, and then select the “Enrollment” link.

For more information, click here

Healthcare Providers Unprepared for New ICD-10 Codes

ICD-10 CodesAccording to the latest edition of Georgia’s Department of Community Health’s newsletter, most healthcare providers are not ready for the conversion for the ICD-10 Code set.

ICD-10 survey* says most providers are ill-prepared!

  • 62% of Georgia physicians have not begun to prepare for the conversion to ICD-10 Code Sets.
  • 83% said that they have either been too busy with other priorities to embrace and implement ICD-10 or are unaware of where to start and what they need to do.
  • 11% know ICD-10 is coming but don’t think it will be difficult to handle.

*Physician Survey of ICD-10 Awareness and Readiness, Medical Association of Georgia and the Department of Community Health (2/2013)

DCH is offering a free Webinar on March 26, 2013, to help providers prepare. Visit http://dch.georgia.gov/icd-10 for more information

Georgia Senate Approves Hospital Medicaid Financing Program Act

On January 17th, the Georgia Senate passed Senate Bill 24, also known as the Hospital Medicaid Financing Program Act.  The bill passed with a 46-9 vote, and authorizes the Department of Community Health to establish a financial structure to protect Georgia’s healthcare system and obtain additional federal funding for the state’s Medicaid program.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Charlie Bethel (R – Dalton) who is quoted as saying “A failure to pass SB 24 would mean devastating cuts in reimbursement rates for medical providers. Hospitals could face up to a 32% percent reduction in Medicaid reimbursements, which could also mean a loss of services and jobs. The impact of hospital closures and layoffs as a result of reduced reimbursements on rural communities and local job markets would be devastating.”

Notably, the state’s hospital industry has been supportive. It has been reported that the proposed Act will raise $689 million in state and federal funds to help provide health care to about 100,000 additional low-income and disabled Georgians expected to join the Medicaid rolls as a result of federal health-care reform.

During his State of the State address, Governor Deal warned lawmakers that without the additional revenue, the state would be forced to slash Medicaid reimbursements to hospitals by 20 percent.

Introduced into the Senate on behalf of the governor, the legislation would turn over responsibility for assessing the 1.45-percent tax on adjusted gross patient revenues to the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH).

The Georgia House of Representatives is expected to take up the bill when lawmakers return to the Capitol Jan. 28 following a week-long recess.

UPDATE 2/2/13: Georgia House of Representatives passed Bill 24, and Governor Deal is expected to sign the bill ensuring $450 million in federal money for the Medicaid insurance program.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Ga-House-adopts-Medicaid-financing-fix-4242885.php#ixzz2JkwBESwB

Georgia Department of Community Health Conservative with Medicaid Changes

The Georgia Department of Community Health has decided not to move forward with an overhaul of Georgia’s Medicaid program.  There are two main reasons for the change:  (1) the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act and (2) the upcoming election.  The Supreme Court left the decision of whether to expand Medicaid up to the individual states, and Georgia’s governor has not made a definite decision about whether or not the state will move forward with expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.  In addition, some political leaders are voicing their intent to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  According to the DCH news release, “[T]he department concluded that the current health care environment is so volatile that acting now with a full redesign would not serve the best interests of all Georgians.”

DCH’s decision to implement only small changes based on information it received from the redesign process seems prudent in light of the current state of federal healthcare reform.  Implementing a complete overhaul of the entire Medicaid system in Georgia without definitive knowledge of whether Georgia will expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act or whether the Affordable Care Act will be overturned could create substantial problems for the state on many levels.  One impact is financial – the Medicaid budget is already facing a deficit, and DCH would be in an unfavorable position if it prematurely overhauled Medicaid at unnecessary expense to the State.

One final important point to note about the announcement is that DCH said that a Medicaid overhaul will not occur “at this time”, which means it could still happen after the political turmoil settles down. Any future changes to Georgia’s Medicaid program will be detailed here.