DHSS Secretary Walker Sends Health Care Spending and Quality Benchmark Recommendations to Governor Carney

NEW CASTLE (Aug. 27, 2018) – Culminating nearly a year of outreach to and feedback from health stakeholders across the state, Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker today sent her recommendations for establishing health care spending and quality benchmarks to Governor John Carney. The work on the benchmarks began last summer when the General Assembly passed House Joint Resolution 7 authorizing DHSS to develop a health care spending benchmark. The Governor signed that legislation in September 2017, just months after an analysis by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) showed Delaware had the third-highest per-capita health care spending rate in the country. That fall, DHSS and Secretary Walker began a series of summits to explore how a spending benchmark could work in Delaware. While the overall health of Delawareans has been improving – Delaware is ranked 30th among the states, according to America’s Health Rankings – the pace of that improvement is trailing the growth of health care spending across the state.

As a way to increase transparency and to tie health care spending to improved outcomes for Delawareans, Governor Carney signed Executive Order 19 in February 2018, creating an advisory group of health care leaders and other key stakeholders to provide feedback to Secretary Walker on strategies for developing spending and quality benchmarks. The advisory group provided its summary report in June 2018.

Based on months of feedback, research and deliberations, Secretary Walker’s recommendations to Governor Carney include:

* The health care spending benchmark should be expressed as a rate using a calculated measure of the per-capita potential gross state product (PGSP) growth, that the Governor should set the initial benchmark for 2019 and that the initial benchmark should remain in place for five years.

* The Delaware Finance Advisory Committee (DEFAC) should establish a new Health Care Spending Benchmark Subcommittee to review the inflation component of the benchmark and the methodology of calculating the benchmark for 2024 and beyond.

* The Health Care Commission should be responsible for setting the health care spending benchmark in the future and consider changes to the benchmark target between 2020 and 2023 if the DEFAC Health Care Spending Benchmark Subcommittee so recommends.

* The Health Care Commission should collect timely and accurate data from licensed health insurers – using the Health Care Claims Database – to inform setting the spending and quality benchmarks, and assessing performance.

* The quality benchmarks should be established to “monitor and establish accountability for improved health care quality that bends the health care cost growth curve.”

* The quality benchmarks should be focused on high-priority areas, including ambulatory care-sensitive emergency department visits; opioid-related overdose deaths and co-prescribed opioid and benzodiazepine prescriptions; and cardiovascular disease prevention.

* That there should be aspirational benchmarks along with more incremental annual benchmarks, and that the Health Care Commission (HCC) should convene a time-limited advisory group to inform the HCC on whether the quality measures should change to reflect new priorities or improved performance.

“I want to thank the hundreds of health care leaders, advocates and consumers across our state who provided feedback on the spending and quality benchmarks,” said Secretary Walker, a board-certified family physician. “They understand the need for our health care system to change in order to be sustainable and to meet the ongoing needs of the patients we serve.”

Secretary Walker encouraged stakeholders to provide feedback to DHSS through ourhealthde@delaware.gov. Ongoing updates also will be posted on DHSS’ health care website, www.ChooseHealthDE.com.

Delaware historically has ranked among the top 10 states in per-capita health care spending, including in 2014, when the state had the third-highest per-capita rate, behind only Alaska and Massachusetts. The 50-state analysis by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), released in 2017, found that Delaware’s per-capita rate was $10,254, or more than 27 percent higher than the U.S. average of $8,045. Without changes, the analysis estimated that Delaware’s total health care spending would more than double from $9.5 billion in 2014 to $21.5 billion in 2025. Yet Delaware ranked only 30th among the states for overall health in 2017, according to America’s Health Rankings.

Health Care Commission Seeks Applications from Delaware Health Care Providers for One-Time Mini-Grants Related to Payment Reform

NEW CASTLE (July 26, 2018) – As part of the State Innovation Model (SIM) initiative, the Delaware Health Care Commission is seeking applications from Delaware health care providers for one-time, value-based payment reform mini-grants to grow their capacity to integrate data, improve the coordination of patient care or increase their readiness to integrate into a total cost of care or Alternative Payment Model (APM).

The Delaware Health Care Commission is prepared to award up to 10 applicants in amounts ranging from $25,000 to $250,000 through the Value-Based Payment Reform Fund for work that must be completed or services procured by Jan. 31, 2019. Mini-grant applicants must be primary care providers, behavioral health providers, hospitals, Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) or clinically integrated networks, and must be licensed in the State of Delaware. Bidders may apply for multiple projects. The Health Care Commission expects to award grants for small projects (up to $50,000) and large projects (up to $250,000), based on the scope of the project. Applications are due no later than Aug. 30.

“These one-time mini-grants offer a great opportunity for health care providers in Delaware to conduct pilot projects in the area of value-based payment reform,” said Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a board-certified family physician. “To embrace this change, we urge providers to test out collaborations or partnerships in the areas of data integration, care coordination or readiness to integrate into an ACO or an Alternative Payment Method.”

“In our continuing work with the State Innovation Model, the Health Care Commission has embraced innovative ways to help practices succeed in the changing health care delivery environment,” said Dr. Nancy Fan, Chair of the Delaware Health Care Commission. “These mini-grants, along with the ongoing work through our practice transformation vendors, give us practical ways to help facilitate that change.”

Applications must be made in one of three areas:

  • Data integration: Project must enhance the applicant’s data integration, clinical informatics or population-based analytics capabilities. Examples include data exchange infrastructure and analytics projects or support; data warehousing and reporting capacity; and development of data-sharing agreements.
  • Improve the coordination of patient care: Project must enhance the applicant’s clinical integration. Examples include conducting data analytics and developing care guidelines for a primary care-based system of complex care management for high-risk population(s); implementing improvements in care transitions such as new business processes or mutual agreements with partner providers; and implementing a practice support call center.
  • Increase readiness to integrate into an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) or operate through an Alternative Payment Method (APM): Project must develop, expand or enhance the applicant’s shared governance structures and organizational integration strategies, linking the applicant with ACO leadership and across the continuum of care with providers already contracted with an ACO. An example would be support to model costs of care in preparation for participation in value-based payment arrangements with multiple payers.

“The Delaware Center for Health Innovation (DCHI) is a public/private partnership, supporting innovative changes in the way health care is delivered and paid for in order to drive quality and better health for all in our state,” said Julane Miller-Armbrister, executive director of DCHI. “We encourage Delaware health care providers to apply for these mini-grants as a way to pilot their ideas for comprehensive reform.”

Applications will be evaluated and considered as they are received, with the final notifications of award coming by Sept. 30. For potential applicants, the Health Care Commission will host a Q&A session via conference call at 2 p.m. Aug. 9. Please email DHCC@delaware.gov for call-in information. All questions and final applications also must be submitted by email to DHCC@delaware.gov.

Delaware HOSA students place at national conference

More than 100 students and advisers from across the State of Delaware joined nearly 10,000 other members the 41st annual HOSA-Future Health Professionals International Leadership Conference in Dallas, Texas. Delaware students represented the First State in competitive events, including: medical math, epidemiology, physical therapy, forensic medicine, dental science, medical assisting, biomedical laboratory science, and more.

Delaware HOSA is a career and technical student organization dedicated to students who are interested in pursuing their future in a career in healthcare. Through HOSA-Future Health Professionals, members have the opportunity to participate in career-focused competitive events, take part in community service work, and become leaders for the organization in their school, state, and at the international level.  HOSA-Future Health Professionals incorporates curricular and co-curricular experiences to emphasize the importance of knowledge, leadership, skill development, and teamwork.

The following students were recognized in the Top 10 in their competitive event:

Competitive Event School Student   
Biomedical Laboratory Science Newark Charter School Olivia Duke  
Community Awareness Appoquinimink High School Steckline and Higgins Silver
Dental Science POLYTECH High School Yasmine Awayes  
Forensic Medicine Newark Charter School Ghosh and Duca  
Physical Therapy Sussex Technical High School Tia Persolio Bronze
Prepared Speaking Sussex Central Hannah Marlea Pistoia Gold
Public Service Announcement Conrad Schools of Science Friedland, Paproth, Zwack, Hockenbrock, and Edleson  
MRC Volunteer Recognition Conrad Schools of Science Halter, Perugini, Spitelle, Gleason, Efe  
National Service Project-NAMI Conrad Schools of Science Ashlee Maney  


To learn more about Delaware HOSA, please contact Peg Enslen by phone at: (302) 857-3339 or by email at peggy.enslen@doe.k12.de.us. A list of all national finalists can be found online at: http://ilc.hosa.org/sites/default/files/2018%20Secondary%20Event%20Rankings.pdf.


Media Contact: Alison May, alison.may@doe.k12.de.us, 302-735-4006

DPH Invites Public Comment on Delaware Statewide Health Assessment

DOVER — The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) is seeking input from Delawareans on a draft version of a statewide assessment identifying the primary health needs of First State residents. DPH worked with a broad range of non-profit and medical partners, and community-based and government agencies to create the draft Statewide Health Assessment (SHA) document.

The SHA is an examination of the health of our population. Data gathering for a needs assessment to develop this document began in 2016. The data, pulled from a variety of sources including focus groups, were used to identify local and statewide trends for the identification and prioritization of strategies. The ultimate goal of a SHA is to develop strategies to address critical health needs and identify challenges and assets in the state in a comprehensive way.

All results were compiled and analyzed collectively to paint a collective picture of Delaware’s health. This comprehensive process yielded the following four top-level priority areas of focus:

1. Chronic Disease: specifically -heart disease, diabetes, and asthma
2. Maternal and Child Health: specifically – teen pregnancy, premature births, and low birth weight
3. Substance Use/Misuse: specifically -the opioid epidemic, accidental overdose, and smoking/e-cigarette use
4. Mental Health: specifically – mental health diagnoses (especially in youth), suicide/suicidal ideations, and impact of trauma.

The plan is posted at http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/files/shna.pdf. Comments can be submitted at http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/files/shaform.pdf. The deadline for submissions is Tuesday, July 31, 2018.

Residents are encouraged to provide feedback about the information presented in the draft SHA. After receiving public comments, DPH will organize partners again to develop strategies and goals to address Delaware’s major health needs.

“It’s important to hear from residents about our draft plan for the health and well-being of Delawareans,” said DPH Associate Deputy Director, Cassandra Codes-Johnson. “We want to know what’s important to you. All residents should have the opportunity to provide input on the issues that are closest to their hearts.”

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 Carney, First Lady, Casey Family Programs Announce “First Chance Delaware”

New initiative promotes culture of commitment to Delaware children through cross-sector partnerships

WILMINGTON, Del. – Joined by members of his Cabinet, representatives from Casey Family Programs and child advocates, Governor John Carney joined First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney on Thursday to announce First Chance Delaware – an initiative led by the First Lady to recognize and facilitate effective partnerships, to share research and best practices, and to promote opportunities to collaborate in support of Delaware’s children.

Casey Family Programs provided the founding grant for First Chance Delaware, and will continue to provide technical and operational support through Casey’s First Spouse Initiative program.

Delawareans can learn more about First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney’s “First Chance Delaware” initiative, and sign up to help, at de.gov/firstchance.

“First Chance is not a new program. It is a framework, in coordination with the Family Services Cabinet Council, to promote a statewide culture of commitment to Delaware’s children,” said First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney. “In advancing that culture, we recognize our shared interest, as well as our shared moral obligation, to give all children an opportunity to realize their potential – in learning, work, and citizenship. We also recognize that, working in isolation, not even the most well intentioned – or even the most well-funded – organizations or individuals can address the obstacles to success that too many of our children confront in the 21st Century. The challenges are intertwined; each deepens the others, in a geometric – and often generational – erosion of opportunity. So to be effective, the efforts to alleviate those challenges must be coordinated and mutually reinforcing. Everyone concerned with Delaware’s future needs to be involved.”

First Chance Delaware will focus its work on:

  • Ending childhood hunger and expanding access to nutritious food for low-income children;
  • Promoting learning readiness through literacy, health and parent-child engagement programs; and
  • Advancing the recognition of – and effective responses to – adverse childhood experiences.

“First Chance Delaware encourages partners from across government, the nonprofit sector, and private business to work together on behalf of Delaware’s children,” said Governor Carney. “This initiative is already helping to confront childhood hunger across our state, and will bring partners together to take on challenges surrounding trauma, learning readiness, and childhood literacy. Thank you to Tracey for her leadership, and we look forward to bringing more voices and resources to the table with the goal of finding solutions to critical issues facing Delaware’s children.”

The statewide Task Force to End Childhood Hunger is the first model partnership to be recognized as a First Chance Delaware program.

“Making sure our children and families have the tools they need to thrive and be successful is vital,” said Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long. “The partnerships created by First Chance Delaware will help us identify gaps so that we can assist and provide for our children in so many areas. I look forward to working with Governor Carney and First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney, as well as the Family Services Cabinet Council, to help make our children and families stronger and healthier.”

“As a member of the Governor’s Family Services Cabinet Council, I have seen firsthand the Governor’s commitment to improving the lives of Delaware’s children and families; however, state government alone cannot address all of the needs of Delawareans, which is why we are all very grateful to First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney for creating First Chance Delaware,” said Josette Manning, Secretary of Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families. “First Chance Delaware will break down the barriers between state agencies and all other individuals and organizations to encourage collaboration and creative solutions to some of the most complex issues facing our children and families.”

Related News
Summer Food Service Program Provides Nutritious Meals for Needy Children
First Lady Tracey Quillen Carney Attends Learning Lab on State Strategies to Reduce Childhood Hunger

Related Background Information
The statewide Task Force to End Childhood Hunger, with a central team convened by the First Lady, includes representatives from the Food Bank of Delaware, the Department of Education, and the Department of Health and Social Services. This task force’s specific goals include increasing participation and building partnerships in support of the Summer Food Service Program and alternative model school breakfasts. The task force also seeks to promote awareness of all programs, public and private, available to Delawareans experiencing food insecurity. Other task force partners include the Harry K Foundation; superintendents, principals, and members of the Delaware School Nutrition Association; the Department of Agriculture and Delaware farmers; Summer Food Service Program sponsors and partners; and the regional office of the USDA.