Minnesota 'Health Care Homes' Model Shows Promise

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , May 30, 2012

Public health policy advocates looking for model primary care programs that are designed to expand coverage, improve care, and lower costs should look to Minnesota.

The state reported this month that the primary care delivery model that was begun in July 2010 has grown to 170 "health care homes," with 1,764 clinicians at the end of 2011.

The "health care home" is Minnesota's version of patient-centered primary care, with the patient always the focus of care decisions.  The Minnesota Department of Health certifies these health care homes using a set of criteria with mandates that include 24-hour access to care, patient history tracking, ongoing monitoring of quality metrics, and care coordination and planning with patients.

These state-certified homes provide care more than 2 million of Minnesota's 5.3 million residents. That patient population includes more than 135,000 Medicaid enrollees, or roughly 18% of those in the program who use primary care. In part, that's because chronically ill Medicaid enrollees are incentivized to join health care homes through medical assistance payments of $10 to $60 a month, depending upon the complexity of their health issues. 

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