On Monday, Alachua County Commissioner Cynthia Moore Chestnut presented on Alachua County's CHOICES Health Services Program at a symposium during the National Association of Counties (NACo) 2007 Annual Conference and Exposition, which is being held this year in Richmond, VA, July 13-17. The symposium was entitled, "47 million uninsured and growing: Solutions for your county," and had a goal of exploring local, state, and federal health care reform options. In speaking about the CHOICES program, Commissioner Chestnut was representing local efforts on the symposium panel.
Commissioner Chestnut's presentation focused on how local initiatives can address access to health care for the working uninsured. Commissioner Chestnut found the presentation very well received and said, "Many county commissioners are finding that in order to address access to health care, the solution is going to have to be a local one. That is the reason attendees were very interested in the CHOICES model and in finding out how they could apply some aspects of it to their own communities. Alachua County was applauded for taking measures to address the access issue for their citizens."
Commissioner Chestnut serves on NACo's Health and Human Services Steering Committee. Alachua County Commissioner Rodney J. Long and Alachua County Manager Randall H. Reid are also in attendance at the conference, and are among over 3000 elected and appointed officials from across the country attending. A representative from the White House was also in attendance of the presentation.
CHOICES Health Services is a program designed to provide health care for workers in Alachua County who do not have health insurance. Health care services are available throughout the County in existing clinics, medical and dental offices. Enrollees pay a $10.00 co-pay for each health care visit and a $5.00 co-pay for each covered prescription filled. The program is paid for by a voter-approved 7-year 1/4-cent sales tax.
Commissioner Chestnut noted that one of the reasons the interest is so high in local health care initiatives is that there are now close to 50 million uninsured citizens in the U.S., and she said, "Therefore, it is going to be incumbent upon local communities to begin to address this issue."
Commissioner Chestnut also noted that, "there was particular interest in the planned implementation of the disease management component of CHOICES because the program will serve a broader community."
CHOICES Director Mike Shine said about the disease management component, "There is enough empirical evidence that there has been limited success in addressing the underlying cost of care in a reactive methodology. If we can instruct the community through the educational component of CHOICES, and concurrently work with impacted individuals to manage their chronic conditions through the CHOICES Disease Management program, we will have a much better formula for success. At the end of the day, the care falls to the local providers. CHOICES is giving the community options to work with the provider community to improve the overall health of all the residents."
For more information about CHOICES Call (352) 264-6772 or go to www.acCHOICES.com.