In an effort to make late diagnosis and emergency room visits for minor ailments a thing of the past, the Department of Health is now in the process of enrolling primary care physicians into CommunityCARE. This program will link approximately 637,000 (75 percent) of Louisiana’s Medicaid patients to a "medical home" so that each patient will have a doctor to coordinate his or her care.

"A key to improving health outcomes in Louisiana is getting more primary care providers serving our state’s Medicaid population,"said LDH Secretary David Hood. "This includes attracting more physicians into the CommunityCARE program, then linking these participating doctors with Medicaid patients. The result will be a medical home for nearly all Medicaid patients."

Hood said LDH has committed to improving reimbursement rates for physicians, and reducing paperwork in an effort to attract more primary care physicians into the Medicaid program.

For physicians in the more urban parishes of North Louisiana who wish to enroll as CommunityCARE providers, an important date is nearing. As of April 15, 2003, physicians must have completed and submitted their enrollment packages to LDH to continue serving their existing or new Medicaid patients. Any physician may request a CommunityCARE enrollment package by calling 1-800-473-2783.

Following the physician enrollment period, Medicaid patients who reside in the parishes of Bossier, Caddo, Caldwell, Franklin, Lincoln, Ouachita and Tensas will be mailed letters naming the participating physicians and asking them to choose their CommunityCARE primary care provider from this listing.

Medicaid is a health insurance program for certain low-income citizens that is jointly funded by the state and federal governments. Administered by LDH, Medicaid provides health care coverage to children, the aged, blind and/or people with disabilities. In recent years, through the Louisiana Children’s Health Insurance Program (LaCHIP) outreach efforts, the Medicaid program has been able to provide coverage to more than 261,000 additional children.