By John Baackes
CEO of L.A. Care Health Plan
While L.A. Care Health Plan is perhaps best known for providing health care coverage to more than 2 million residents in LA County, our work extends beyond that of a managed care organization. By design, we are also committed to supporting the county’s extensive health care safety net. In fact, it is our mission to provide quality health care access to vulnerable populations and to help the safety net achieve that purpose. For that reason, we are thrilled about our most recent milestone: our Los Angeles Practice Transformation Network (LAPTN) achieved its goal of enrolling 3,100 clinicians.
LAPTN is one of 39 health care collaborative networks selected by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to participate in the national Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative (TCPI). Over the course of four years, LAPTN will receive up to $15.8 million to help LA County clinicians transform their practices and improve care for patients with diabetes and depression. It is an area of health care that needs our attention – and for good reason. We are pleased to collaborate with the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County (CCALAC) – one of our key partners on this ambitious project. Through community clinics and health centers alone we have been able to secure the participation of 25 agencies and their 750 plus clinicians.
According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, diabetes ranks as the fifth leading cause of death in the county – and the total direct cost of treating diabetes is estimated to be more than $6 billion per year. Further, studies show that diabetes doubles the risk of comorbid depression, affecting as many as 70 percent of patients with diabetic complications. It is also well documented that people who seek help for depression are more likely to visit a primary care physician rather than a mental health professional. Fortunately, research also suggests that collaborative depression care in a diabetes disease management program is a viable approach for improving outcomes and patient care satisfaction among diabetic patients in a safety net care system.
L.A. Care is proud of the strong relationship we have developed with CCALAC and Los Angeles’s community clinics and health centers over the years, partnering on several successful programs such as HITEC-LA, health center controlled network (HCCN), and eConsult. We believe LAPTN is another opportunity to work together to tackle some of LA County’s most pressing challenges in providing care to underserved and disadvantaged residents. And although it will require an immense amount of planning, collaboration and execution, we are confident that we are headed in the right direction thanks in large part to the support from CCALAC and its members.
Our focus is to make the program meaningful and relevant to those who participate. In discussions with some of the participating agencies and their clinicians, we’ve already learned that care coordination, risk stratification, and empanelment are among key areas of interest.
While the work of LAPTN will ultimately help improve health outcomes for patients with diabetes and depression, there’s no question that participating clinics and health centers will also be better off. LAPTN is critical to supporting their continued movement toward helping patients through PCMH models and data-driven quality improvement – and prepares them for value-based payment models.
We look forward to working together to improve the health of all the communities we serve throughout LA County. Our forward-thinking organizations will make for a great partnership to foster innovation in the safety net under LAPTN.