Telegram & Gazette: UMass Medical School, MassHealth working to keep children with high-risk asthma healthier

March 04, 2015

UMass Medical School and MassHealth, the state Medicaid program, are working on an initiative to keep children with high-risk asthma healthier by trying to ensure the use of proper medications and the elimination of triggers, while reducing costly hospital visits, according to a story in the Telegram & Gazette March 4.

"The part of this that is really new and revolutionary is actually the payment method," Katharine London, MS, program lead for UMass Medical School, told the Telegram & Gazette. London, who parented an asthmatic son, now 19 years old, is a principal at the Center for Health Law and Economics within UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division.

The Children’s High-Risk Asthma Bundled Payment demonstration is geared toward children ages 2 to 18 whose asthma would likely lead to an emergency room visit. The bundled method will give participating providers a monthly payment for asthma-related goods or services not traditionally covered by insurance, such as vacuum filters, mattress covers or home visits, to help reduce triggers.

"If children are living in housing where there are pests of any kind, where there is mold, where there are high pollution levels, then there are triggers for asthma attacks that can keep children out of school and a parent away from a job," London told the Telegram & Gazette.

Commonwealth Medicine has been collaborating with MassHealth on an asthma initiative since 2011, shortly after legislation required the state to develop bundled payment models for health care.

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