Baton Rouge—Today the work begins to put into action the recommendations made at the historic Louisiana Health Care Summit. At the summit’s closing session Thursday afternoon, Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco and Department of Health Secretary Dr. Fred Cerise pledged to implement several short-term solutions to health care issues that plague the state. 

“It’s now more apparent to me than ever that the citizens of Louisiana are not interested in maintaining the status quo. We have heard the call to action loud and clear. Put people first,” said Blanco. 

Among the short-term improvements, the governor will immediately pursue: 
· Enrolling as many eligible children as possible into Louisiana Children’s Health Insurance Program (LaCHIP). 
· Increasing the number of federally qualified health centers
· Using data to identify high cost patients and services and focusing resources to improve quality and decrease costs. 

In order to encourage ongoing health care improvement efforts around the state, Governor Blanco has directed Department of Health Secretary Dr. Fred Cerise to prepare regional health indicators to help support local priorities. 

“I am pleased the governor has made improving health care a priority,” said Secretary Cerise. “This is an issue that affects citizens from all walks of life and I am glad to partner with her to make this vision a reality.” 

Blanco and Cerise will soon appoint a health care reform panel to carefully review summit findings, Louisiana health care studies, and design a long-term strategy to resolve the state’s health care problems. The governor wants a preliminary report from the panel in June. 

“The long-term challenge, of course, is to develop a model of care that ensures that everyone has access to timely and high-quality medical services while we also work to embrace healthy lifestyles and fitness,” said Blanco.