"This is a high-risk group," Robinson said. About 65 percent have high blood pressure, 45 percent are diabetic and 53 percent have asthma. Such chronic conditions account for a third of West Virginia's health-care costs, legislative studies say.
So, when people learn to manage them, the state saves money, Whitler said.
The federal grant that funded the original CAP program ended in 2005, "but CAMC has kept doing it," Whitler said, "because it works."
Now the partners want to expand it.
A model others could duplicate
The CAP program is small, compared to at least 100,000 uninsured West Virginians who have no regular doctor.
Health-care reform will pay to expand such efforts, he said, especially when hospitals and community caregivers collaborate, says health-care consultant Tom Susman.
In late August, he helped the Partners in Health group put together a proposal to use health-care reform money to expand the CAP program. Among other things, they want to pay an actuary to calculate a fee schedule and financial blueprints.
"It's a dream, but maybe the CAP program can be the start of an accountable care organization," Susman said. "Maybe it can eventually become a program people can choose on the [health insurance] exchange."
Three years from now, West Virginia's health-care exchange will go online, and West Virginians will be able to choose among health insurance plans.
Partners in Health hopes an expanded CAP program could be offered as a non-insurance option to satisfy that requirement.
"The law appears to allow prepaid programs to be listed, too," Susman said. "That would give people a low-cost alternative that provides real health care."
Partners thinks it would cost about $100 a person per month for primary and hospital care, with some specialized care included. Each person would pay between $25 and $100, depending on income.
Meanwhile, the group is expanding. Partners in Health now includes 23 hospitals, clinics and health centers within 100 miles of Charleston. Hygeia Facilities Foundation in Raleigh and Boone counties has joined CAP. Roane General and Roane County Family Health Center might join.
FamilyCare, Cabin Creek and New River also are managing the care of 1,200 disabled people with chronic disease, while CAMC provides hospital care. "In that program, we have practically eliminated re-admissions to the hospital," Robinson said.
"These are models that can be duplicated," he said. "We keep trying to show what can be done when people work together."
Reach Kate Long at katel...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1798.
For information about . . .
| Community health centers: Visit www.wvpca.org. For a list, click on "Members."
| The CAP program: Visit www.pihn.org. Click on "Download CAP brochure"
| WVRX free prescription pharmacy: Visit www.wvrx.org.
| West Virginia Health Right: Visit www.wvhealthright.org