A team from the Louisiana Department of Health has been selected to attend the National Governor’s Association Policy Academy on Chronic Disease Prevention and Management. Only six other states were selected to send teams to this event.

The NGA Policy Academy is convening this December in New Orleans. Louisiana’s team will join health care teams from Alaska, Iowa, Maine, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont to study ways to improve strategies for preventing chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cancer.

Each state’s team will be invited to consult with national experts and develop a chronic disease management plan for their states. Dr. Roxane Townsend, LDH Medicaid medical director, and Liz Sumrall, senior health care adviser, have been selected to lead the team for DHH.

A key issue of Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco’s health care reform effort is greater focus on disease outcomes to improve health care. Better management of chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes and cancer are seen as key areas in which better patient care can be achieved.

“Real health reform in Louisiana is about improving the lives of our citizens,” said Gov. Blanco. “Ultimately, we will achieve success when we detect cancer sooner, and when we identify people with asthma and diabetes and get them the appropriate interventions and treatments. The opportunity to consult with national experts and then develop a plan that works for our state is consistent with our efforts to improve health outcomes. I thank the NGA Policy Academy for selecting Louisiana to participate.”

LDH Secretary Dr. Fred Cerise agreed, stating that having a team from Louisiana in attendance at the academy is a sign that Louisiana’s health care reform efforts are on the nation’s radar.

“We are honored to be chosen as a participating state for this policy academy, and we hope to gain useful insight into how we can better manage rates of chronic illnesses here,” Cerise said.