On June 24, THOT held its quarterly Board meeting. The meeting, chaired by Dr. Fred Cerise, was packed with attendees and a fast paced agenda. Invited guests included Executive Commissioner of Health and Human Services Charles Smith, Selvadas Govind and Ardas Khalsa from HHSC, national health law expert Barbara Eyman, THOT consultant Bill Rago, and Doris Hunt and Peter Roberts from Children’s Health System of Texas. Micah Rodriguez from Blackridge, Jessica Schleifer from THOT, Tom Suehs and Ryan Clay from Texas Star Alliance provided a legislative update. To close, Maureen Milligan and Stephanie Hall from THOT laid out a strategic plan and membership proposal for the Board.
Charles Smith, the newly appointed Executive Commissioner of Health and Human Services, shared his vision with THOT for the agency and the state.
Commissioner Smith stressed the importance of maintaining relationships with providers, and stated that THOT members play a vital role in the state’s health care system. He stressed that he is not looking to upset the current system and has no order to make changes, but he has a vision for the agency and is looking at ways to make the organizational structure more efficient. He also shared that he is looking to implement incremental improvements with metrics and data, eliminate burdensome administrative rules, and streamline processes with a focus centered on improving health outcomes and efficiently using public dollars. In closing, the Commissioner spoke about the Network Access Improvement Program (NAIP) and the importance of the funding arrangements. He shared with THOT that he intends to honor some funding arrangements already in place, and that his goal is to continue the Network NAIP after some retooling and approval from CMS.
(Ardas Khalsa, Deputy Medicaid/CHIP Director at HHSC and Selvadas Govind, Rate Analysis Director at HHSC updated THOT members on HMA’s UC Study, the Waiver extension and DY 6 mechanics, and supplemental payments).
Barbara Eyman, the founder and Principal at Eyman Law Firm, and Bill Rago with THOT jointly presented “Charting a THOT Course Through CMS’ Perfect Financial Storm.” Their presentation focused on the waiver renewal and risks, CMS’ core principals and new managed care rules, budget neutrality, and potential short-term and mid-term strategies for addressing these financing issues.
Doris Hunt and Peter Roberts from Texas Children’s Health System of Texas presented their “First Generation Accountable Health Community for Families.” This project integrates community services with medical care to engage children with asthma and their families through trusted agents with the ultimate goal of improving their health outcomes and overall family well-being.
Peter shared some of the major challenges of financing and connecting health care systems for this project. Doris laid out how they built coalitions, found those at risk, identified gaps in services, and then determined how best to engage with their community partners to create a value based system.
Overall this project was one component in a coordinated county strategy to improve health outcomes for children with asthma. This coordinated strategy was successful in cutting emergency room visits for this population by 50 percent, reducing inpatient stays by 25 percent, and ambulance services by 10 percent over the last four years in Dallas County. Children’s is now looking to apply this successful accountable health community model to other areas such as weight management and diabetes.