Louisiana Department of Health Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein will begin a statewide tour next week, meeting with citizens and health care providers to continue the department’s dialogue about how to make Medicaid better through managing the health care of recipients.

“Our time is now. Our sense of urgency could not be greater,” Secretary Greenstein said. “Despite spending nearly $7 billion a year, taxpayers in Louisiana aren’t getting the return on their investment, and too many of the people who rely on us aren’t getting the kind of coordinated health care they need and deserve. It is clear that our system is broken. To fix it, we must work together and take giant leaps into the new world of health care that has been passing us up. Change is always difficult, but change in Louisiana is imperative.”

The tour kicks off in Monroe on Tuesday, Dec. 7 and continues in Shreveport on Dec. 8, Lafayette on Dec. 9 and Alexandria on Dec. 10. The following week, there will be forums in Lake Charles, Houma, Abita Springs and New Orleans. The first forum was held as a statewide event in Baton Rouge on Nov. 17 and drew more than 200 participants. The regional forums schedule is online at www.MakingMedicaidBetter.com, and detailed agendas for each forum will be available online prior to the meeting date.  There is no registration necessary to attend the forums.  LDH will post resources and presentations from each forum online. Each forum also will be recorded, and LDH will make the video available online shortly after each forum.

“These forums are so important because this change isn’t just about the Department of Health and Hospitals,” Greenstein said. “It is about every one of us working together for a healthier Louisiana. Despite all the efforts of very fine doctors, hospitals and other health care providers across the state, they are trapped in a system that rewards volume over value. It’s that system that has given us poor health outcomes, waste and inefficiency. And it’s that system that must change.”

Each forum will feature presentations from local health care providers, Greenstein and LDH Medicaid staff, and each will offer several opportunities for attendees to ask questions and propose ideas.

“Our structure for managing care in Medicaid, known as Coordinated Care Networks, was built with an intense focus on improving health outcomes for the people we serve,” said Dr. Rodney Wise, Medicaid Medical Director.

“We are eager to get out and talk more about our vision and hear the many good ideas others have that will help us improve upon the work that has already been done. I’ve met with so many fine physicians from all over the state through this process, and I know we all believe that managing care is better than not managing care. Working together, we will improve Medicaid, and ultimately the health of our citizens.”

The complete schedule of forums is as follows:
Region 8 (Northeast La.)   
1 p.m.- 4 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 7
Monroe City Council Chambers
Monroe City Hall
400 Lea Joyner Memorial Expwy
Monroe, LA 71201-7509

Region 7 (Northwest La.)

4 p.m.-7 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 8
Louisiana Technical College
2010 N Market Street
Shreveport, LA 71107

Region 4 (Acadiana)
4 p.m.-7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 9
Acadian Ambulance Services Building
302 Hopkins Street
Lafayette, LA 70501

Region 6 (Central Louisiana)
9 a.m.-noon, Friday, Dec. 10
Rapides Women's and Children's Hospital, Cascade Room
211 Fourth St.
Alexandria, LA 71301

Region 9 (Florida Parishes)
2 p.m.-5 p.m., Monday, Dec. 13
Abita Springs Town Hall
22161 Level Street
Abita Springs, LA 70420

Region 5 (Southwest La.)
6 p.m.-9 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 14
Lake Charles Civic Center
900 Lake Shore Drive
Lake Charles, LA 70601

Region 3 (South Central La.)
4 p.m.-7 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 15
Houma Terrebonne Civic Center
346 Civic Center Blvd.
Houma, Louisiana 70360

Region 1 (Orleans Metro)

4 p.m.-7 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 16
Orleans Room
Pan-American Life Building Conference Center
601 Poydras Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
Detailed agendas for each forum will be posted and updated online at www.MakingMedicaidBetter.com as the dates near. Also online, people can submit questions and ideas, and sign up for the department’s Making Medicaid Better newsletter to stay up-to-date in the latest developments to reform Medicaid in Louisiana.

The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow LDH's blog at www.myhealthla.org, Twitter at http://twitter.com/La_Health_Dept and search for the Louisiana Department of Health on Facebook.