Williamson County is developing plans to improve health care programs within the area to submit to the Texas A&M University Health Science Center, an organization in Round Rock that serves as an anchor for a newly created nine-county regional health care partnership.
Commissioners heard presentations June 26 regarding health care improvement plans, which included reducing tobacco use in workplaces and increasing electronic medical record keeping.
The health care improvement plans are necessary to access Delivery System Reform Incentive Payments, which are federal funds that will go to health care providers developing programs and strategies to enhance access to health care as well as increase health care quality and cost-effectiveness.
Dr. Monica Wendel, assistant dean for community health systems innovation at the Texas A&M Health Science Center, said the purpose of the DSRIP funds is to improve health care in the region.
"The DSRIP [funds] aim to alleviate the burden of uncompensated care by getting people healthy and keeping them healthy, and in appropriate kinds of care so that they don't incur hospital costs to begin with when they don't need to," she said.
1115 Medicaid Waiver
In December, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved the Texas Healthcare Transformation and Quality Improvement Program 1115 Waiver, which aims to improve the Medicaid system in the state and make it more cost-effective.
"The goal is to transform the way we deliver Medicaid services," Williamson County Precinct 2 Commissioner Cynthia Long said.
Bride Roberts, accreditation coordinator with the Williamson County and Cities Health District, said the change makes up to $29 billion in federal matching funds available to Texas over five years. Under the old model, the funds would have been no more than $15 billion, Roberts said.
The matching funds come from two pools. One is the uncompensated care funds, which are similar to the current Upper Payment Limit Program, a supplemental payment to hospitals taking care of Medicaid patients. Money can also come through DSRIP.
The nine-county region of which Williamson County is a part, known as Region 8, was finalized earlier in June and includes Bell, Blanco, Burnet, Lampasas, Llano, Milam, Mills and San Saba counties.
Williamson County will submit a draft of its projects to the health science center by July 6. There will be a public comment period for 10 days beginning Aug. 20 on the entire region's plans. The Texas A&M Health Science Center will send the final plan to the Health and Human Services Commission on Aug. 31.
For more information, visit www.tamhsc.edu/1115-waiver/index.html.