Increasing the number of children receiving health insurance, incorporating practices to improve medication prescribing and implementing the first Medicaid disease management program for asthma are just some of the successes that have occurred during the first year of health care reform efforts.

The Department of Health has published an annual report detailing projects that have occurred or are underway since Gov. Kathleen Blanco convened the first Statewide Health Care Summit last March.

The report, titled “A New Direction for Louisiana: Reflection on the First Year of Health Care Reform” was presented at the Governor’s Health Care Reform Panel meeting on March 17, and is available online at under the Health Care Reform section.

“We have made significant progress toward a more efficient health system that delivers quality care,” said Gov. Blanco. “I want to reform our health care system because it’s the right thing to do for our citizens. But, it’s also the right thing to do for our economy. I applaud our health care reform panel for their good work and their dedication to our state’s people.”

The report covers progress made during the first year by discussing developments in the six critical areas of health care reform that were determined at the Health Care Summit. Those areas are: providing care to the uninsured; expanding access to appropriate health care resources; improving and restructuring long-term care; promoting health education and awareness; improving the administrative delivery of health care; and focusing on performance outcomes using best practices and evidence-based principles. During the past year, two additional focus areas --- reducing prescription drug costs while improving prescribing practices and evaluating the Medicaid program --- emerged. Those focus areas also are in the report.

In addition to the items mentioned above, some efforts highlighted in the report include development of a long-term care reform plan that looks at immediate action items and long-term steps; expanding health unit hours to increase access to childhood immunizations; developing an initiative to use electronic medical records in the state;  receiving two federal grants to offer addiction treatment and prevention services at the community level and working to treat mental health patients using mobile crisis teams, community treatment teams and crisis mobile units.

“We have been able to accomplish a lot of key reform initiatives only one year into this massive effort to improve health care in our state,” said LDH Secretary Dr. Fred Cerise. “We know much work remains to be done, but we hope to have even more successes to report at this time next year.”