Nevada, North Dakota and Wyoming Look to Expand ‘Smart Card’ Pilot Program
Nevada, North Dakota and Wyoming are seeking to expand a pilot program that uses "smart cards" to deliver health benefits to low-income families. The cards are used under the states' Health Passport Project to store health records and eligibility information for recipients of health and prescription benefits, immunization services, food stamps and benefits from the Women, Infants, and Children program. Health care workers and other service providers insert the cards into electronic readers to obtain the medical records or other information they need to treat beneficiaries. Providers also have cards of their own, which determine the level of access they have to beneficiaries' medical records. "That's the way we designed it in order to be able to handle the different levels of security and program access that would be needed," Terry Williams, Wyoming's Health Passport manager, said. The system was designed to reduce the paperwork burden for families receiving benefits from multiple state agencies and to make it easier for parents to manage their families' health care. More than 15,000 cards have been distributed to families in Reno, Nev.; Cheyenne, Wyo.; and Bismarck, N.D. Following a favorable report on the pilot project that was released by the Western Governors Association in January, Wyoming Gov. Jim Geringer (R) asked the state Legislature last week for funding to expand the program to more counties. The WGA and ScrippsHealth, a private health care system in California, are also working to develop ways to make the cards more secure and to create secure medical databases accessible to all states involved in the project. Funding for the project comes from the WGA, HHS, the Department of Agriculture and local service providers (Porteus, Technology Daily PM, 2/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.