Kaiser Grant Could Boost Access to Specialty Care in Ventura County
Kaiser Permanente has awarded a $150,000 planning grant to Ventura County in an effort to boost access to specialty care for low-income, underserved residents, the Ventura County Star reports.
Due to a shortage of specialists, low-income patients in the county can wait up to four months to get an appointment, according to the Star.
The county will use the grant to target improved care for gastrointestinal disorders and ear, nose and throat problems because the shortage is largest among specialists in those areas.
Under the grant, a coalition of doctors would develop clinical plans for how primary care physicians could treat cases that are less severe and were referred by specialists.
The team also would determine which tests primary care doctors could order and additional training they could complete. In addition, the Kaiser grant would increase staffing in an office at the county hospital that handles specialty referrals.
Socorro Serrano, a spokesperson for Kaiser, said if the HMO approves of the coalition's plans, the county could receive up to $900,000 to adopt them.
According to Kaiser, 21 coalitions statewide will be working together to develop solutions for improving access to specialty care for uninsured and Medi-Cal beneficiaries. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
The proposed solutions include:
- Establishing specialty care centers; and
- Lowering demand for specialty care through improved referral guidelines and communication, according to the Star (Wilson, Ventura County Star, 2/6).