A Day in the Life of Wendy Walther Davis: The ‘Why’ of the Work

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Like many department employees, Wendy Walther Davis, medical program specialist, sits in an unassuming office in the belly of an office building where the public does not tread. Also like so many employees, Wendy quietly goes about doing an enormously valuable job. She arranges medical transportation for Medicaid participants with urgent needs.

When we think of medical transportation, the conjured image is a van or ambulance picking someone up, dropping them off, and it’s done. But in Wendy’s world, figuring out how to transport someone is far more complicated, and sometimes life and death. “I don’t just work with transport companies,” she says. “I work with doctors, long-term care providers, government entities, participants, and the participants’ families. I genuinely care about these people. In fact, many of them feel like friends.”

Wendy Walther Davis is a medical program specialist in the Division of Medicaid.

Wendy Walther Davis is a medical program specialist in the Division of Medicaid.

Much of Wendy’s job entails working around obstacles to ensure patients get what they need within the timeframe they need it. On the day we caught up with her she was working to get a terminal patient out of state back to Idaho so they could spend their last days with their family. To accomplish this, she worked with the family to ensure hospice was in place when the patient arrived, worked with the out-of-state provider’s transportation team to make sure they were aware of the patient’s situation and ready in case he passed away during the trip. Although this is not a situation that would normally be attempt by Wendy and her team of providers, they were determined to try because it is “the right thing to do. No one should have to die in a hospital hundreds of miles from their family.” she says. Continue reading

Healthy Connections Value Care begins January 1, 2020, with the goal of making Medicaid patients healthier

DHW Innovation logo with green and blueMeet Jane. Jane lives in Idaho. She has diabetes and high blood pressure, and she recently broke her wrist when she slipped on an icy sidewalk. Jane is a Medicaid participant. When she sees her primary healthcare provider for her wrist, the provider is aware of the diabetes and blood pressure conditions, even though that’s not why she’s in the office. That’s because the doctor has agreed to designate his practice as a patient-centered medical home. This means he will coordinate ALL of Jane’s care to make sure she’s receiving the right treatment to maintain or improve her health, at the right time, and at the right cost.

This is the future the Department of Health and Welfare sees as it works to ensure all Idahoans have affordable, available healthcare that works. A milestone will be marked on Jan. 1, 2020, with the start of the Healthy Connection Value Care Program for Medicaid participants.

The Evolution of Healthy Connections

The Healthy Connections Program in the Division of Medicaid started several years ago. In 2013, Healthy Connections introduced a nationally-recognized model of healthcare delivery called the patient-centered medical home.  This model emphasizes three goals:

  1. Improved patient satisfaction
  2. Improved clinic staff satisfaction
  3. Increased clinic efficiencies

In the patient-centered medical home model, a primary care provider or healthcare team works with the patient to provide comprehensive and continuous medical care. The goal is to keep the patient healthy or improve their health, if possible. Continue reading

Medicaid survey of supported living services providers will begin in mid-February

Medicaid’s cost survey of providers for supported living services will begin soon. This survey is for providers who offer up to 24-hour support to qualified participants with developmental disabilities so they can live in their communities rather than in an institution.

We have received a number of questions about the survey and how it will be conducted. The framework of the study is set by Idaho state regulations, which you can find here (page 27, section 037).  Continue reading

Idaho Medicaid to conduct cost survey with providers of supported living services

Idaho Medicaid announced today that it will work with providers to conduct a cost survey to evaluate the rates paid to providers of supported living services. During the survey period, Medicaid will pay temporary rates that will go into effect Feb. 1.

These changes do not affect all Medicaid providers, only those who provide community-based supported living services to qualified participants with developmental disabilities.

Supported Living services allow adults with developmental disabilities who choose to live in their own homes up to 24-hour support for personal care, supervision, and to receive help building skills needed to become more independent.

Medicaid had originally announced reinstatement of an approved rate schedule after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2015 that upheld the state’s ability to set reimbursement rates for Medicaid services. Service providers objected and said those rates would be too low, with several suggesting they would no longer participate in the program.  Continue reading

Gov. Otter unveils proposal for establishing a primary care access program

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter announced a new proposal today to connect uninsured Idaho adults living in poverty with primary healthcare and preventive services to help keep them healthy.

Subject to approval by the Legislature, the Primary Care Access Program (PCAP) is a public-private partnership that would benefit adults 19-64 years of age who have no access to health insurance coverage.

PCAP providers would assess the health of each participant and develop treatment plans to manage chronic conditions and coordinate their care through a patient-centered medical home model.

“This is an all-Idaho initiative that can improve the health and lives of 78,000 adults who have been going without basic healthcare and suffering because of it,” Gov. Otter said. “We have been struggling to find a solution for more than three years, and it has become apparent Medicaid expansion is not what Idaho wants. This is an achievable alternative that gives us total control, with no federal strings or mandates.” Continue reading

Idaho Medicaid delays rate adjustment for a month

The Idaho Medicaid program will delay a rate adjustment for supported living services from January to February 2016 to allow providers more time to adjust to the change and provide accurate information to participants about service options. The state had told providers last week that the rate adjustment would occur in January but realized more time would be necessary for many of them.

The rate adjustment is the result of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in April of this year that upheld the state’s ability to set reimbursement rates for Medicaid services. A specific group of Medicaid providers had filed suit against Idaho in 2011 to force the state to pay higher rates. During the three years it took the lawsuit to work its way through the courts, the state paid providers the higher, court-ordered rates. With the Supreme Court victory, Idaho will reinstate the previous rates for Medicaid supported living services beginning February 1.  Continue reading