States Get Grants to Improve Medicaid Primary Care

Twenty states will receive grants totaling $50 million to improve access to primary medical care so that Medicaid beneficiaries can avoid improper use of costly hospital emergency rooms, the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Thursday.

“These grants provide new programs and services to help people get the non-emergency care they need in the most appropriate setting,” CMS Acting Administrator Kerry Weems said in a prepared statement.

The first $37.5 million in grants is now available to fund 29 programs in the 20 states. The remaining $12.5 million will be made available in 2009. The grant money will be used to establish new community health centers; extend the hours of operation at existing clinics; educate Medicaid beneficiaries about new services; and provide for electronic health information exchange between facilities for better coordination of care.

The states receiving the grant funds are: Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Washington.