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Fresh Bits Of Good News On MA Health Reform: ER Visits, Diabetes, Blood Pressure


These health-reform-anniversary factoids just in from the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers and Health Care For All:

Preliminary data:
-Emergency department visits for approximately 60,000 Boston residents enrolled in Neighborhood Health Plan decreased overall by 20 percent between 2008 and 2010. More specifically, of those residents who are Commonwealth Care members the decline in ER visits fell 57 percent. This drop is striking as it demonstrates how effectively patient behavior can be impacted, particularly among those with previously limited access to the primary care system.

-Aggressive disease management programs targeting high-cost patients with chronic illnesses like diabetes improve health and keep care in lower-cost settings:
Patients enrolled in Lynn Community Health Center’s diabetes management program between 2008 and 2010 achieved a 21 percent drop in blood sugar levels. The program places intense focus on prevention screenings and self-management of the disease with the help of a team of nurse case managers and community health workers.

-Hypertensive patients receiving care at Neponset Health Center in Dorchester between 2008 and 2010, 14 percent saw an improvement in blood pressure readings. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 29 percent of US adults have high blood pressure (an indicator of hypertension) and less than a third of them have it under control. As little as a 12 to 13 point reduction in blood pressure in the population could reduce heart attacks by 20 percent, strokes by 37 percent and deaths from all cardiovascular diseases by 25 percent. Overall, the combined cost to employers from diminished productivity as a result of three obesity-related health conditions (hypertension, heart disease and diabetes) is estimated at $1,018 per employee per year.

This program aired on April 11, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

Carey Goldberg Twitter Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth blog.

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