A panel created by Gov. Bill Ritter will distribute $7.5 million in grants from UnitedHealth Group during the next six years.
The Colorado Rural Health Care Grants Council is responsible for deciding how the money will be distributed based on deficiencies in access to health care.
“Many of our rural areas face a critical undersupply of health services,” Ritter said. “As Colorado continues to examine major health-care reform, we must strengthen our delivery systems in rural Colorado to ensure that all Coloradoans have access to high quality, affordable health care — whether they live in Denver or Durango.”
UnitedHealth already has donated $1 million to rural health providers.
The council will be composed of members appointed by the governor, including representatives from the Colorado Departments of Local Affairs, Health Care Policy and Financing, and Public Health and Environment; Colorado Division of Insurance; Governor’s Office of Policy and Initiatives; and UnitedHealth Group.
“More than 770,000 Coloradans, including 180,000 children, lack health insurance,” Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien said. “Many of them live in rural Colorado.”
Bent, Crowley, Park and San Juan counties do not have a primary care physician. Cheyenne, Clear Creek, Conejos, Hinsdale, Jackson, Saguache and Washington counties do not have a doctor who will accept new Medicaid clients, and 24 counties do not have a hospital. Of those, 14 are in rural areas.

Go Red for Women

Heart disease kills 500,000 women each year. To combat the disease, the American Heart Association is planning the 2007 Go Red for Women Education Day from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Antlers Hilton Hotel.
Billed as an event only for women, the goal is to increase awareness about heart disease and prevention. Health screenings, interactive exhibits, a medical panel, cooking demonstration and a silent auction are included in the program, which ends with a luncheon.
Nan Scranton and Katie Farlow have been named co-chairwomen of this year’s event. Farlow is assistant vice president of commercial and residential lending at Academy Bank. Scranton is a deputy district attorney in the special victims unit of the District Attorney’s Office of the Fourth Judicial District.
For information, contact the American Heart Association at 635-7688 or cami.bremer@heart.org.

EHRs and malpractice

Nearly 45 percent of doctors say that an electronic health records system will make them less vulnerable to malpractice lawsuits, according to a study by the Medical Records Institute.
An additional 20 percent said their malpractice insurer offers a discount for using electronic health records.
The survey was cosponsored by the Professional Risk Associates, an insurance company based in Virginia. Respondents from 115 practices completed the survey.
The survey found that almost 20 percent of respondents have had a malpractice case involving documentation based on data from EHRs. Of those, 55 percent said their EHRs were helpful during the case.
Sixty-two percent of respondents said they have EHRs, and two-thirds of those said their applications are stand-alone systems that have been in use for more than a year. An additional two-thirds of EHR-based practices reported that their providers fully use the system.
About 25 percent of respondents, however, indicated that their EHRs don’t have the functions they need, and a similar percentage said they haven’t received adequate training about how to use their systems.
The complete survey is available at www.medrecinst.com.

Specialty pharmacy opens

Amerita has opened a specialty infusion pharmacy at 2270 Garden of the Gods Road, Suite 102. It is the company’s first location in Colorado.
The pharmacy will specialize in intravenous administration of medications that treat acute and chronic health conditions such as infections, auto-immune illnesses, cancer, pain, multiple sclerosis, hemophilia and nutritional deficiencies.
Amerita Inc. operates specialty infusion pharmacies in Texas and Tennessee.

Employee health care grants

Colorado is providing $4,000 grants to help employers build comprehensive worksite wellness programs.
The money, which is available through the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, can be used to implement programs to improve employees’ physical activity and nutrition behaviors.
The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. Aug. 20, and a 50 percent match is required.
For more information, e-mail chris.torrizo@state.co.us or call (303) 692-2430.

Wal-Mart wows symposium

Everyone knows Wal-Mart as mammoth retail chain, but now people are praising it for something other than low prices — its health care program.
During the Dorsey Hughes Symposium in Colorado, Wal-Mart’s executive vice president for risk management, benefits and sustainability talked about the plan.
Wal-Mart, frequently criticized for not providing health care to its employees, has created a comprehensive, low-deductible insurance plan that offers premiums as low as $11 a month. Employees can add children to the plan for $15 a month.
Amy Gillentine covers health care for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.

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