Health Beat: UAMS family centers joining nationwide public-private network to strengthen primary care

by Talk Business & Politics staff ( 122 views 

Health Beat is a roundup of healthcare-related news.

Five regional Family Medical Centers of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and four UAMS primary care clinics in Little Rock are joining more than 2,900 primary care practices nationwide in a partnership between payers and providers. Called Comprehensive Primary Care Plus (CPC+), the partnership is designed to provide access to quality health care at lower costs and will provide primary care practices with additional payments to improve coordination of care. CPC+ is administered by the federal Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMS Innovation Center).

For patients, this means that physicians may offer longer and more flexible hours, use electronic health records, coordinate care with patients’ other health care providers, better engage patients and caregivers in managing their own care, and provide enhanced care for patients living with multiple chronic diseases.

The five UAMS Family Medical Centers are part of UAMS Regional Programs: UAMS Northeast in Jonesboro, UAMS Northwest in Fayetteville and Springdale, UAMS Southwest in Texarkana and UAMS West in Fort Smith. The four UAMS clinics in Little Rock are UAMS Family Medical Center, UAMS Internal Medicine Clinics, the Thomas & Lyon Longevity Clinic and Neighborhood Clinic at Rahling Road.

Separately, UAMS was ranked in the top 10 nationwide for the percentage of its graduating class to pursue family medicine. In the latest ranking, the UAMS College of Medicine was listed seventh in the nation by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) on Feb. 3. The ranked list was based on a three-year average ending in 2015 of the percentage of each graduating class to go into a family medicine residency program accredited by the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education. UAMS was included on the ranking of Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) programs.

Healthcare giant Centene Corp. said in its fourth quarter and yearly financial results that it offered health insurance to 58,600 Arkansans in 2016, up 40% from 41,900 in fiscal 2015. Overall, the St. Louis-based healthcare provider said its managed care membership nationwide is now at 11.4 million, a 123.5% increase from 5.1 million members in 2015.

Centene reported fourth quarter profits of $255 million on revenue of $11.9 billion, up 89% from a year ago. Yearly revenue jumped 78% to $40.6 billion. Centene is one of four healthcare insurance providers for Medicaid expansion in Arkansas. In 2016, individuals could obtain health insurance coverage through the state’s Medicaid private option from Centene’s Ambetter Arkansas, Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, QCA Health Plan, and Qualchoice. United Healthcare, which began offering plans on the exchange at the beginning of 2015, pulled out of the marketplace exchanges in Arkansas and Georgia at the end of 2016.

New clinical trial results provide evidence that high-dose immunosuppressive therapy followed by transplantation of a person’s own blood-forming stem cells can induce sustained remission of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the central nervous system. Five years after receiving the treatment, called high-dose immunosuppressive therapy and autologous hematopoietic cell transplant (HDIT/HCT), 69% of trial participants had survived without experiencing progression of disability, relapse of MS symptoms or new brain lesions. Notably, participants did not take any MS medications after receiving HDIT/HCT. Other studies have indicated that currently available MS drugs have lower success rates.

The trial, called HALT-MS, was sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, and conducted by the NIAID-funded Immune Tolerance Network. The researchers published three-year results from the study in December 2014, and the final five-year results appear online Feb. 1 in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.