Statement from DHSS Secretary on the Pending U.S. Senate Health Care Vote

NEW CASTLE (July 25, 2017) – Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a board-certified family physician, released the following statement urging the U.S. Senate not to approve a health care reform bill expected to be voted on today:

“On behalf of the tens of thousands of Delawareans who have gained health coverage through the Affordable Care Act, I urge the U.S. Senate not to support the House version of health care reform. Proposals currently under discussion in the Senate threaten the health and independence of many of the 27,000 people who receive coverage through Delaware’s Health Insurance Marketplace and the 225,000 Delawareans who depend on Medicaid for their health care and supportive services, including seniors in nursing homes, individuals with disabilities, and children and adults in low-income households.

“The bill before the U.S. Senate is the wrong direction for Delaware and it’s the wrong direction for our country. I urge the Congress to seek out bipartisan fixes to the Affordable Care Act that won’t take health insurance and health care away from people in our state and across the country, but will provide more people with choice and options that are affordable.”

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The Department of Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of life of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.


Delaware to Participate in NGA’s Bipartisan Health Reform Learning Network

Initiative will help states anticipate effects of federal health care changes, and discuss new ways to reduce costs

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney announced on Thursday that Delaware has been selected as one of 14 states to participate in the Governors’ Bipartisan Health Reform Learning Network – an initiative led by the National Governors Association. The network will help Delaware anticipate potential federal health care changes under consideration in Congress, and discuss new ways of using innovation to reduce the growth in health care spending.

Governor Carney has expressed concern over efforts in Washington to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, saying proposed changes could limit access to quality health care for Delawareans with the greatest needs, and shift health care costs onto the states.

“I believe that the technical assistance provided through this opportunity will make a significant difference in our efforts to curb the growth of health care spending in Delaware and to prepare for the statutory and regulatory parameters of any new Medicaid or private health insurance reforms that may be enacted in Washington,” said Governor Carney. “The work of our Delaware team will have a direct impact on the lives of all Delawareans, including state employees and retirees, those who are covered by Medicaid, and individuals and families who depend on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act for quality health care.”

Strategically realigning resources to drive statewide health care innovation, improve health outcomes, and lower costs was a recommendation of the Action Plan for Delaware.

The Governors’ Bipartisan Health Reform Learning Network – which is designed to assist states in navigating the changing health care landscape – will include Delaware, California, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.

Delaware and the other states will:

  • Receive clear, unbiased information on the potential impact of proposed changes to Medicaid and private health insurance;
  • Engage in a dialogue with other state leaders and national experts about reform proposals, including targets for health care spending, and their potential impact on states;
  • Receive data analyses regarding the state impact of health care reforms; and
  • Receive technical assistance to understand and prepare for the statutory and regulatory parameters of any new Medicaid and private health insurance reforms, if enacted.

Delaware also will join six other states – Minnesota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont and Virginia – in a complementary Maternal and Child Health working group charged with evaluating proposed changes and informing the learning network about potential implications.

The members of Delaware’s Health Reform Learning Network team are:

  • Dr. Kara Odom Walker, Secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS);
  • Molly Magarik, Deputy Secretary for DHSS;
  • Chris Hudson, Director of Budget Development, Planning and Administration with the Office of Management and Budget;
  • Regina Mitchell, Fiscal and Policy Analyst with the Office of Management and Budget;
  • Dr. Karyl Rattay, Director of DHSS’ Division of Public Health;
  • Stephen Groff, Director of DHSS’ Division of Medicaid and Medical Assistance;
  • Laura Howard, Executive Director of the Health Care Commission; and
  • Sheila Grant, Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Carney.

The members of Delaware’s Maternal and Child Health working group include:

  • Leah Jones Woodall, Section Chief for Family Health Systems, federally designated Maternal and Child Health Director in DHSS’ Division of Public Health;
  • Kate Tullis, PhD., Director of Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs in DHSS’ Division of Public Health;
  • Dr. Karyl Rattay, Director of DHSS’ Division of Public Health; and
  • Stephen Groff, Director of DHSS’ Division of Medicaid and Medical Assistance.

Secretary Walker, a board-certified family physician, said Delaware’s acceptance into the learning network will help to further the health care innovation under way at DHSS and through the Delaware Center for Health Innovation (DCHI).

“We are at a critical stage in our health care delivery transformation,” said Secretary Walker. “As participants in the Governors’ Bipartisan Health Reform Learning Network, we will be able to tap into some of the best ideas and innovations in the country, including global spending targets to curb the growth of health care spending, and bring them to our state. We believe that will lead us to additional ways to improve the health of Delawareans and their experience with the health care system, while reducing the overall costs.”

Delaware already is taking steps to drive health care innovation, improve health care outcomes, and lower costs.

In 2015, Delaware was selected to receive a four-year, $35 million grant from the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to implement initiatives that are focused on helping Delaware achieve the Triple Aim Plus One: better health, improved health care quality and patient experience, lower growth in per capita health care costs, and an enhanced provider experience that promotes patient-centered engagement.

The goal of the innovation work is to strengthen the primary care system so that patients experience well-coordinated, team-based care that delivers better health outcomes, to align incentives for providers and health insurers to focus on quality and affordability, to support patients to engage in their own health, and to support communities to work together to promote health and connect community resources to the health care system.

Delaware’s accomplishments to date from the grant include the statewide launch of a Common Provider Scorecard with health measures aligned with major payers, more than 350 primary care providers receiving grant-funded training and technical assistance in transforming their practices to better meet all of the needs of their patients, financial assistance to six behavioral health practices that include 68 providers to support adoption of electronic medical records, more than 30 percent adoption of value-based payment models by providers statewide, the launch of a community-based population health initiative in two areas of the state, and the passage of legislation enabling the Delaware Health Care Claims Database.

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Governor Carney Signs Bill Allowing Organ Donation for HIV-Positive Donors and Recipients

Governor also recognized April 2017 as National Donate Life Month in Delaware

Governor Carney signs Senate Bill 17
Governor Carney signs Senate Bill 17.

DOVER, Del.  –  Governor Carney on Tuesday signed into law Senate Bill 17, which allows HIV-positive Delawareans to donate organs to HIV-positive recipients, and allows organs from HIV-positive donors to be used for clinical research.

Governor Carney also signed a proclamation recognizing April 2017 as National Donate Life Month in Delaware.

“Delawareans are compassionate people who understand that organ and tissue donation saves lives,” said Governor Carney. “Our state is already a leader in donor registration. I was proud to sign a proclamation recognizing April 2017 as National Donate Life Month in Delaware and to sign Senate Bill 17, which makes common sense changes to allow even more Delawareans to benefit from the compassion of others and live fuller lives.”

“We’ve come a long way since the 1980s,” said Senator Bryan Townsend, D-Newark, who sponsored the legislation. “This legislation reflects major advances in our scientific and medical understanding of HIV, and it offers an opportunity to substantially improve quality of life and life expectancy for transplant recipients with and without HIV.”

“Our healthcare laws should be driven by research and medical advances and we should do what we can to erase the fear and stigma of previous policies,” said Representative Dave Bentz, D-Newark. “Senate Bill 17 ultimately will help save lives and I am happy that we have paved the way for more people in Delaware to receive the gift of life.”

Governor Carney was joined at the bill signing by Speaker of the Delaware  House of Representatives Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, an organ donor; members of the Gift of Life Donor Program, a nonprofit, federally designated organ procurement organization serving the eastern half of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware; and organ and tissue donation advocates.

“The need for organ and tissue donors is extensive and affects people across our community.” said Howard M. Nathan, President and CEO, Gift of Life Donor Program. “We salute Delaware for its continued advocacy and commitment to our mission.”

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Governor Markell Declares Radiation Protection Week at Delaware Tech Students’ Open House

GEORGETOWN – As 17 second-year Radiologic Technology students looked on, Governor Jack Markell signed a proclamation designating Nov. 6-12, 2016 as Radiation Protection Week. The signing occurred at Delaware Technical Community College’s (DTCC) Jack F. Owens Campus in Georgetown.

The occasion preceded an annual student-run Radiologic Technology Open House where students demonstrated their knowledge of medical x-ray imaging equipment and procedures at seven stations. DTCC offers its two-year Radiologic Technology associate degree program at its Owens and Wilmington campuses. Students are educated to achieve national credentials in radiologic technology, nuclear medicine technology, and dental assisting.

“I thank the Radiologic Technology students for promoting their area of study,” Governor Markell said. “Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education positions students to find rewarding health care careers in Delaware.”

The event also celebrated a trio of anniversaries: the 50th anniversary of the college, the 40th anniversary of the Authority on Radiation Protection, and the 30th anniversary of the Radiologic Technology Program at the Owens Campus.

“For three decades, the Rad Tech program has responded to the needs of local health care employers by preparing licensed health care professionals who work closely with radiologists to safely perform x-ray procedures,” said DTCC President Mark Brainard. “Yet the College cannot take all the credit. The success of our program has depended on partnerships, and we are thankful for the support of Beebe Healthcare, Bayhealth Medical Center and Nanticoke Health Services who have donated high-tech equipment for our labs and continue to provide clinical rotations for our students. Members of these organizations also devote their time and expertise to serve on our Rad Tech advisory board to help us ensure that our graduates are job-ready on day one, and we are thankful for their support.”

“Safe radiation procedures protect our health and quality of life,” said Division of Public Health (DPH) Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “Medical imaging procedures play an important role in the early detection of cancer and cardiovascular disease, in emergency medicine such as x-rays to assess broken bones, and to detect oral health issues at the dentist’s office.

DPH’s Office of Radiation Control (ORC) collaborates with the Authority on Radiation Protection and many disciplines throughout the practice community to enhance radiation safety, improve health outcomes, and promote quality of life for all Delawareans. ORC regularly inspects radiation facilities to ensure that x-ray equipment is operated safely by trained, qualified staff. The Office of Radiation Control registers facilities that use radioactive materials, registers radiation service providers, and issues certificates for administering radiation to human patients by qualifying medical and dental radiation technologists and technicians.

For more information about how radiation protects and enhances personal health, visit the Authority on Radiation Protection at www.deradiationprotection.org.

For more information about ORC and certification requirements, call 302-744-4546 or visit http://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/hsp/orc.html.

For more information about DTCC’s Radiologic Technology program, visit dtcc.edu/academics/programs-study/radiologic-technology or contact Kristie Hellens, Department Chair, Instructor, and Program Advisor at khellens@dtcc.edu or 302-259-6680.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.


Governor’s Weekly Message: Improving Health Care Through Innovation

Wilmington – In his weekly message, Governor Markell highlights ongoing efforts to improve health care quality and lower costs in Delaware, aided by the award of a $35 million grant announced earlier this week.

“Despite tremendous strides to increase access to insurance and to develop better treatments, our health outcomes for many ailments rate below the national average,” said Governor Markell. “Yet, Delawareans pay 25 percent more for care and health costs take close to 25 percent of our state budget. It’s why I have committed to an innovative plan for a healthier state – developed by all parts of our health care community working together. And by winning a $35 million federal grant for our plan this week, we can now do the hard work of making this vision a reality.”

Every week, the Governor’s office releases a new Weekly Message in video, audio, and transcript form. The message is available on:

YouTube: http://youtu.be/NWyDT7n8b7M
Delaware.Gov: http://governor.delaware.gov/podcast_video.shtml
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Complete transcript of the Governor’s Weekly Message: Improving Health Care Through Innovation