Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Officially Launches Nationwide Medicare Pilot Project

April 27, 2006
CONTACT: Suzanna Cisneros Martinez, suzanna.martinez@ttuhsc.edu
(806) 743-2143

LUBBOCK – Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center announced Thursday (April 27) the launch of the Texas Senior Trails project. The Health Sciences Center is one of six organizations nationwide chosen by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services o operate a three-year demonstration project to help Medicare beneficiaries improve their quality of life while reducing their medical expenses and Medicare program costs.

Participants will work with a team of health care advocates to guide them through the complex maze of health care issues.

The health care team will coordinate care with the participants’ various physicians and other medical services and programs, including in-home or nursing home care givers. The health care team also will develop individualized care plans based on the participants’ specific circumstances, providers and needs as well as help them overcome obstacles to receiving appropriate and timely care, such as transportation. Additionally, the health care team will oversee their prescription needs, as well as keep doctors informed about their medication use.

“The pilot project will focus on Medicare beneficiaries who are considered ‘high cost’ and ‘high risk’ and will seek to improve their health through better quality care,” said Mark B. McClellan, M.D., Ph.D., administrator for CMS. “Beneficiaries with multiple progressive chronic conditions typically see numerous doctors without any one doctor knowing about or coordinating the care provided by the other doctors.”

On average, McClellan said, these patients see seven different physicians and have 20 prescriptions each year.

Texas Senior Trails, a consortium of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Texas Tech Physician Associates and TrailBlazer Health Enterprises LLC, will coordinate an integrated health care delivery pilot project for beneficiaries in 48 counties in the Texas Panhandle and South Plains area.

TrailBlazer Health Enterprises is the Texas Medicare fiscal intermediary and carrier. The company brings a successful 39-year history of working with the Medicare fee-for-service program, its beneficiaries and their providers.

“One of the primary goals of this project is to improve the patient outcomes and quality of life,” said M. Roy Wilson, M.D., M.S., president of the Health Science Center. “The Health Sciences Center is tremendously excited to be a part of this project.”

Lorri Velten, Texas Senior Trails Project administrator, said CMS has identified 5,117 patients in the Lubbock and Amarillo area who meet the standards of high utilization as described by Medicare.

“We are proud to be able to have an opportunity to offer cost-effective quality care in a large group practice setting in the Lubbock and Amarillo demonstration site, as well as provide leadership for testing methods to transform care and implement more cost-effective care at a national level,” said Lorri Velten Texas Senior Trails Project administrator.

The Care Management for High Cost Beneficiaries demonstration will be the first effort by CMS to focus specifically on provider-directed models of care for high-cost, fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries. The Senior Trails Project currently has more than 2,000 participating beneficiaries enrolled, of which 1,600 are in the Lubbock area, and more than 400 in the Amarillo area. Enrollment into the project will continue for several months.

“With this support through Texas Senior Trails, participants can maintain an active role in their well-being and can achieve a more independent and healthier lifestyle,” Velten said. “They can work their way through the health care system with professional assistance and gain better control of their health.”