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Children's Health

Four firms picked for Medicaid, PeachCare contracts

Three holdover companies and one new entrant have been selected as winners of a multibillion-dollar contract to serve more than 1 million Georgia children in lower-income families.

Healthcare CostCareSource, an Ohio-based nonprofit health plan, is set to join Amerigroup, Peach State and WellCare to serve low-income adults and children in Georgia’s Medicaid and PeachCare programs.

The deals are not yet final, state officials emphasized Thursday. Losing bidders have a 10-day period to appeal the decision to state contracting officials.

The contract for the “Care Management Organizations’’ is worth an estimated $4 billion over six years. The launch date for the new contract is July 1. Ten other bidders either did not earn scores as high as the four winners or were judged “non-responsive.”  full story

Pediatricians, facing new realities, form network

More than 1,100 Georgia pediatricians have joined a new physician-led network that aims to improve quality of care and eventually contract for payments from insurers.

The sign-ups so far represent roughly one-third of the total number of pediatricians practicing in the state.

Dr. Bob Wiskind

Dr. Robert Wiskind

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta helped create the nonprofit entity, called the Children’s Care Network.

Dr. Robert Wiskind, an Atlanta pediatrician who is the network’s board chairman, told GHN recently that members will share  national “best practices’’ of medical care, such as identifying which children with concussions need to get a CT scan.

The doctors, who practice in the Atlanta region, will also share data on how the care they each give to kids compares with the care given by their peers.

The creation of the Children’s Care Network comes at a time of dramatic change in the way medical providers are paid for their services. full story

Progress seen at DFCS, but turnover still a problem

The long-troubled child welfare system in Georgia is showing some signs of positive change.

Additional DFCS workers have been hired, caseloads have dropped, and recommendations from a reform council are being enacted.

Gov. Nathan Deal addresses reporters in January as members of the Child Welfare Reform Council look on.

Gov. Nathan Deal addresses reporters in January as members of the Child Welfare Reform Council look on.

At the same time, though, keeping DFCS caseworkers remains a problem. Job turnover among these professionals remains high, so the benefit of their education and experience is often lost to the agency.

The annual turnover rate for frontline workers is about 35 percent statewide. That worker churn generally is higher in metro Atlanta, “where there are more job opportunities for people with this skill set,’’ says Ashley Fielding, a spokeswoman for the Department of Human Services.  full story

Young patients prominent in med cannabis registry

Children with seizure disorders have led the initial wave of patients registered for medical marijuana use in Georgia, state officials said Tuesday.

State Department of Public Health officials said cancer was the second-leading diagnosis for registrants.

The agency last month launched its Web portal and registration cards for medical cannabis oil. A law passed earlier this year made it legal for some people to possess the oil for medical purposes. Physicians can apply for a card on behalf of a patient with one of eight medical conditions.

Low THC Registry Card - FRONT-1

The program is strictly regulated, and possession of marijuana products remains illegal for the general public in Georgia.

Two-thirds of the Georgians newly registered for medical marijuana are under age 17. And the most prevalent diagnosis for the cannabis oil is seizure disorder, Donna Moore, state registrar overseeing the agency’s vital records section, told a Public Health board meeting.

She said 54 patients have been registered so far. full story

Day care centers for fragile children to close

A metro Atlanta firm is closing its five Georgia day care facilities for medically fragile children.

Pediatria HealthCare, headquartered in Norcross, notified state officials this month that the closings are coming.

pediatriaPediatria’s president, Joe Harrelson, told GHN on Thursday that after the closings, no day care facilities for medically fragile kids will remain in the state.

He said the closures are a reaction to state Medicaid officials’ becoming much more restrictive on allowing coverage for children to get medical day care services.

Three of the facilities are in metro Atlanta — Tucker, Smyrna and Stockbridge — while the others are in Columbus and Savannah.    full story

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