Dec. 13, 2004

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Contact: Jean Hall, KU Center for Research on Learning, (785) 864-7083.

KU receives $2M SRS grant to improve health care for high-risk individuals

LAWRENCE -- The University of Kansas will receive a $2 million grant over the next five years as part of a state effort to improve health care services for high-risk individuals, to help them stay employed and to help them remain independent. The grant comes from the Division of Health Care Policy, a part of the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.

Individuals placed in the state's high-risk pool have been labeled “uninsurable” because of severe and often multiple health conditions, such as congestive heart failure, cancer, diabetes and depression, said Jean Hall, project coordinator in the KU Center for Research on Learning's Division of Adult Services. They also are ineligible for either Medicaid or Medicare.

KU will partner with the Division of Health Care Policy, which is the state's Medicaid agency, and other organizations to provide preventive health care and related support services for 200 individuals in the high-risk pool who are employed. The partnership is an effort to prevent or forestall loss of employment, independence and reliance on public benefits.

Nationally, the number of people receiving Social Security disability benefits has steadily increased, more than doubling from 4 million in 1985 to more than 9.1 million in 2000.

KU's role in the project will be to evaluate its effectiveness and ensure that consumer concerns are addressed. Hall will lead the KU effort.

“ As a person who has experienced a chronic illness and been labeled 'uninsurable,' I have always wanted to help develop programs that can help people get the health care they need before they become so ill that they can no longer work or feel productive,” Hall said. “The benefit to Kansans and society as a whole is that more people will remain productive, contributing to the economy and being self-sufficient. Fewer people will be forced into poverty and reliance on state and federally funded public assistance programs, which we all pay for.”

The entire project grant is worth a total of more than $15.3 million, including KU's share, to the State of Kansas over five years. Most of the funding for the project ($13 million) comes from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS covers all outreach, administration and evaluation costs, and all medical or employment support services not covered by the Kansas state Medicaid plan. The state will match a portion of the Medicaid services expenses incurred by the project ($2.3 million).
Hall sees this project as a natural extension of KU's work with the Kansas Medicaid Buy-In program, Working Healthy.

“ Working Healthy allows people with disabilities to return to work and maintain their Medicaid coverage,” she said. “The new program funded by the grant, hopefully, will keep participants from ever having to lose employment because of their impairments in the first place.”

Agencies involved in the project are the SRS Division of Healthcare Policy (the state's Medicaid agency); the Kansas Health Insurance Association, also known as the state high-risk pool; Benefit Management Inc. of Great Bend, third-party administrator of the KHIA plan; and Health Integrated, a Tampa, Fla., company that will help recruit study participants, provide assessments for services and provide case management services.

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