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Illinois Doctors Who Treat the Poor Get State Bonus

October 1, 2009
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Illinois is doling out about $5 million in bonus payments to doctors who provide quality care to patients on public-aid programs, state health officials said Wednesday, September 30.

The state tracked the performance of more than 5,000 primary care doctors who treated public-aid patients last year, rating them on asthma management, child immunizations, child development screenings, diabetes management and breast cancer screenings.

Doctors who met national treatment guidelines for any of those measures will receive $20 for each patient treated under those standards. For example, doctors who administered at least one blood sugar test to 79.3 percent or more of his or her diabetic patients—a national average for Medicaid programs—will get $20 for every patient who got a test.

The state is tracking the doctors’ performance in partnership with Ingenix, a health information firm owned by UnitedHealth Group.

“Our responsibility, to our beneficiaries and our taxpayers, is to encourage and promote the highest-quality care at the most effective costs,” said Barry Maram, director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, which runs the state Medicaid program and other public-aid programs.

The payments are being made to doctors who treat the 1.6 million patients in Illinois’ Health Connect, a 3-year-old program that assigns Medicaid patients to a doctors’ office or clinic in an effort to better manage their care. Nearly 90 percent of the 5,000 doctors whose performance was measured qualified for bonus payments, a department spokeswoman said.

“The bonus payments help address the biggest issues in caring for chronic illness by creating incentives for better preventive services,” said Vince Keenan, executive vice president at the Illinois Academy of Family Physicians. “It saves on catastrophic costs for the state.”


Filed by Mike Colias of Crain’s Chicago Business, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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