BLUE CROSS: Receives New Telemedicine Grant
Blue Cross of California announced last week that it was awarded $1.8 million by the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board (MRMIB) to establish a telemedicine program designed to increase access to health care services for Californians living in rural areas. The grant comes under MRMIB's 14 Rural Health Demonstration Project awards, part of its effort to implement and administer the state's new Healthy Families program. The grants are designed to increase access for the 3.8 million people who live in California's rural communities, many of whom have been historically underserved due to the concentration of specialty health care and health education in urban and suburban neighborhoods. The telemedicine grant is expected to fund about 20 new sites statewide, as well as expand telemedicine capabilities in about 15 others. Blue Cross' partners in the effort include the University of California-Davis Health Systems, Cedars Sinai Medical Center and the Northern Sierra Rural Health Network. John Monahan, Blue Cross' general manager of Medi-Cal and Healthy Families Programs, said, "We're excited about the opportunity to help increase access to high quality specialty and health care services for Californians living in these communities. This project is particularly significant as we believe that a successful demonstration project can serve as a model throughout the rest of the country."
Blue Cross also announced that along with Delta Dental and Vision Services Plan it received $250,000 in rate enhancements from MRMIB to establish a statewide seamless network to serve seasonal and migrant farm workers, fishing and forestry workers and Native Americans. Such non-stationary citizens must currently enroll and disenroll their children in Healthy Families when moving to another county. This rate enhancement creates a statewide Healthy Families combination (Blue Cross release, 10/20).
Blue In Tulare
Blue Cross also announced yesterday that it was selected by the Tulare County Board of Supervisors to assist in implementing the local Medi-Cal managed care plan. The insurer expects to enroll up to 44,000 new members. Monahan said, "[W]e are in an ideal position to meet the health care needs of Tulare's Medi-Cal beneficiaries." Blue Cross is the only health plan to participate in all 58 California counties (Blue Cross release, 10/26).