Baton Rouge --- CommunityCARE is rolling into New Orleans, and the city is rolling out the red carpet for the program this Friday, with a kickoff at the Delgado Community College Student Life Learning Center. Department of Health Secretary David W. Hood and State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry will make a presentation twice while at the kickoff, once in the morning and again that afternoon.  

A CommunityCARE physician who has been part of the program in Baton Rouge also will speak about how the program benefits patients and doctors alike. Working members of the media are invited to attend either session during the kickoff and receive more information about CommunityCARE and its benefits. 

“This program is a continuation of the department’s commitment to improving primary and preventive care in Louisiana,” Hood said. “In merging our Medicaid and LaCHIP clients into CommunityCARE, we are creating a way to improve the health of our citizens in those programs. CommunityCARE is an investment in our health care system that will soon reap great rewards.” 

CommunityCARE links Medicaid recipients to primary care providers who can help manage their health care before medical problems become severe.  The program aims to decrease rates of serious illnesses such as cancer and diabetes in Louisiana by having patients see doctors regularly to monitor their health. The program also tries to eliminate unnecessary emergency room visits, which can be very costly. 

More than 100,000 Medicaid recipients living in Orleans Parish received a letter at the beginning of August telling them to select a primary care physician from a list of Medicaid doctors in the area. The program will be fully launched in the New Orleans area by Sept. 1.  

After Orleans Parish is enrolled in CommunityCARE, only three parishes statewide will not be in the program. LDH expects to add those three parishes – St. Bernard, Jefferson and Plaquemines – by December 2003. Other parts of the state have been enrolled by region, with several parishes at a time. Since Orleans Parish is so large it will be added alone, with surrounding parishes to follow.

 CommunityCARE Kickoff for Orleans Parish

 Delgado Community College --- Student Life Learning Center, 615 City Park Ave.,  New Orleans, La.

WHEN: Friday, Aug. 22, Morning Session: 9-11 a.