DHW’s Living Strategic Plan: A year of progress toward ensuring affordable, available healthcare that works

April 29, 2022
DHW Director Dave Jeppesen

The Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) uses our strategic plan as a roadmap to define and share who we are as an agency, what our goals are, and how we plan to achieve them. Over the past year, we have worked diligently to follow our roadmap toward our mission of strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans. Our current strategic plan cycle will end on June 30, and we are currently in the process of developing our next five-year plan.

Each week, the senior leadership team discusses real-time updates about our strategic work. This blog post highlights and celebrates some of the key achievements from the current strategic plan. This week, I will cover the first of our four strategic goals. Today, we’re focusing on our first strategic goal. Throughout May and June, this blog series will continue with a focus on the second, third, and fourth strategic goals.

Making progress toward Strategic Goal 1: Ensure affordable, available healthcare that works

Objective 1.1: Increase the number of National Health Service Corps clinic sites by 12 percent by June 30, 2023.

  • Healthcare organizations in federally designated Health Professional Shortage Areas can apply to become National Health Service Corps sites. These sites are important because they provide a sliding fee scale for patients and loan repayment opportunities for providers. The DHW team reached out to dozens of providers in newly designated Health Professional Shortage Areas in Blaine and Bonneville Counties to encourage them to become National Health Service Corps sites. The team provided education and technical support for new site applications. There are now 23 new site applications underway and the DHW team will continue to support application development through the closing date on May 10, 2022.
  • Clinics must be in a designated Health Professional Shortage Area to apply to become a National Health Service Corps site. The team successfully analyzed 100 percent of Idaho’s areas not currently designated and submitted six applications for possible new shortage area designations. While four of the applications were unsuccessful due to the provider to population ratio, new primary care shortage area designations were approved for Blaine and Bonneville Counties.  

Objective 1.2: By July 1, 2023, 50 percent of Medicaid payments will be tied to measurable outcomes of better health and cost-efficient care.

  • The Healthy Connections Value Care program performance year successfully went live on Jan. 1, 2022. This trailblazing collaboration between DHW and healthcare providers is designed to ensure that providers are rewarded for providing high-quality, cost-effective healthcare, and Idahoans receive healthcare that makes them healthier. Now, the team is collecting data throughout 2022 to prepare a preliminary report on the new program, which will include performance metrics relating to cost efficiency and quality.
  • The Medicaid team is working toward adding the Medicaid Expansion population to the Healthy Connections Value Care program as part of Performance Year 2 of the program.
  • The Medicaid team also  worked on contract language for “duals” plans – people enrolled in both Medicaid and Medicare. The new contract language supports value-based payment strategies that will result in better health and cost-efficient care for people on duals programs. The DHW team worked with healthcare provider partners to agree on contract language, and the new contracts are now in place.
  • DHW has recently hired a quality director, who will work with the Medicaid team to set meaningful quality metrics and goals for Medicaid’s value-based, managed care, and fee-for-service programs. Together with the DHW medical director, the quality director will collaborate with many stakeholders to develop an overarching population health and quality strategy.

Objective 1.3: Limit Medicaid spending growth to a defined annual per-member cost increase target through the implementation of cost-containment strategies by July 1, 2025.

  • DHW is working to develop a data-driven per member per year cost-containment target. We are also working to modify the Medicaid budget report to track progress toward that target. The Medicaid team will use the target as a benchmark for cost containment activities.
  • This cost reduction strategy task has been completed on time. The DHW Medicaid team worked with Blue Cross of Idaho and Molina Healthcare of Idaho to implement new contracts for people enrolled in both Medicaid and Medicare. The new 2022 contracts include mutually agreeable contract language and performance measures that are designed to reduce the growth trend by $5 million, year-over-year.
  • The Medicaid team has been working on several strategies to limit the use of low-value, medically unnecessary services. The goal is to achieve cost-avoiding savings of $5 million in SFY 2023. The team has worked on several internal initiatives to revise and update clinical policies to manage service provision.

As we reflect on the progress and completion of these tasks and objectives in the first of the department’s four strategic goals, I am filled with gratitude and admiration for the hard work put in every day by DHW staff, and by the countless partners who continue to help us along the way. As we prepare to move our focus toward the next five years, I am confident that we will continue to innovate and collaborate in our work together to serve Idahoans.

You can follow the DHW’s work toward our mission and read more about our Strategic Plan on our website.

I hope you have a safe and healthy weekend.