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Utah Department of Health receives health care grant for children

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded the Utah Department of Health and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare a federal grant of $10.3 million.

The grant is to improve health care quality and delivery systems for children enrolled in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program.

Funding will be awarded over a five-year period through the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009.

The money will help Utah and Idaho implement and evaluate provider performance measures and utilize health information technologies, such as statewide pediatric electronic health records for children with chronic and complex conditions.

Utah and Idaho will also test the effectiveness of having a "medical home" coordinator in primary and specialty care practices to improve coordination of referrals and information sharing.

A "medical home" concept is one in which the child's health care services are coordinated and monitored centrally, often by a primary care provider. Additionally, the two states will devote resources to training medical residents in quality improvement and how to best utilize the "medical home" model.

"This grant gives Utah the opportunity to be a leader in exploring new ways to improve the quality of care delivered to our most medically needy children," said Dr. David Sundwall, the Utah department's executive director. "In fact, I am confident the work we do with this grant will save money and prove that we would all be better cared for over time by a personal physician who could make referrals to specialists only when needed."

The grant is part of $100 million in federal funds awarded to 10 states to help establish a national quality system for children's health care through Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program.

For more information, visit www.health.utah.gov/healthservices.htm.