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PHAN Receives RWJF Grant To Begin Campaign To Reduce Health Care Costs Among PA's Most Vulnerable Populations

June 30, 2015

The Pennsylvania Health Access Network (PHAN) has been awarded a Value Advocacy Project grant of $300,000 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to improve the health care system for people in Pennsylvania.  

The grant will support an eighteen month project that will work to reduce health care costs and improve health outcomes for a subset of the Medicaid population with high costs, poor health outcomes and high health needs. 

In collaboration with the Pennsylvania Health Law Project and Project HOME, PHAN will advocate for a statewide approach to patient centered medical homes for Medicaid beneficiaries with chronic conditions; and urge the state to use Medicaid dollars to establish permanent supportive housing services for Pennsylvania’s vulnerable populations.  

“As more and more individuals access health care through the Affordable Care Act and Pennsylvania’s newly expanded Medicaid program, it is imperative that we focus on how to reduce costs and improve health outcomes for Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable populations. We are excited to be provided this opportunity by the RWJF to engage consumers and advocacy groups in a much-needed dialogue around health systems transformation,” said Antoinette Kraus, Director of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network.

 With the expansion of Medicaid eligibility on January 1, 2015, many more Pennsylvanians who have experienced chronic homelessness and who live with chronic health conditions have been able to enroll in Medicaid. Pennsylvania’s health plans and providers have an important opportunity to learn about this population’s needs and improve the quality of care and health outcomes. Many new Medicaid beneficiaries in this population have health needs complicated by substance use disorders and challenges related to mental health, trauma and other issues.  

This project will bring together health, housing and mental health experts and leverage consumer involvement to urge state policymakers to develop and implement new approaches to health care for vulnerable Medicaid beneficiaries, including requesting federal approval for waivers. Strategies include engaging the existing consumer advocacy community, raising public awareness, educating policymakers and state Medicaid official about the need for health systems transformation, and working with housing advocates to lift up the benefits to vulnerable Pennsylvanians of supportive housing services. 

The Pennsylvania Health Access Network and other grantees in the Value Advocacy Project will pursue state and local health system changes that increase the value of health care by improving health outcomes and lowering costs, especially for populations that have disproportionately poor health outcomes. The grants will be managed by Community Catalyst in collaboration with the RWJF and are part of a broader effort to spur health system transformation to improve health care quality and make care delivery more affordable, transparent and supportive to consumers.