Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Governor Ernie Fletcher Announces New Diabetes Centers of Excellence

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, November 28, 2006  
Contact Information:  Jodi Whitaker

Gwenda Bond

Local health departments will target Medicaid population to improve health status

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher today announced a new program to help Medicaid members and others with diabetes better manage the disease through a unique partnership involving the patient, primary care physician, local health department and community resources.

Governor Fletcher awarded $100,000 to each of six health departments to establish “Diabetes Centers of Excellence” that will target the Medicaid population in counties they serve. The centers will provide a better system of care and disease management.

“Far too many people are suffering from diabetes and its debilitating effects, especially in the Medicaid population,” said Governor Fletcher, who is also a physician. “The addition of certain diabetes care practices to daily life can reduce the risks of diabetes complications.  A new approach to diabetes management, which includes preventive practices, can improve the lives of those who suffer from this disease.  The Centers of Excellence are intended to address a growing need and improve results.”

Overall, the Diabetes Centers of Excellence aim to produce healthier patients with fewer complications and reduced health care costs.

Awards went to the:

  • Purchase District Health Department
  • Barren River District Health Department
  • Madison County Health Department
  • Lake Cumberland District Health Department
  • Lincoln Trail District Health Department
  • Floyd County Health Department

“The Diabetes Centers of Excellence would not have been possible without Representative Jimmie Lee’s work to secure funding for the centers during the 2006 General Assembly,” said Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Mark D. Birdwhistell. “We are now able to better coordinate resources and provide more thorough care for people suffering from diabetes. Ultimately, this will lead to healthier people and reduced health care costs.”

“Diabetes continues to be a major problem in Kentucky and a significant budget issue for the cabinet,” said Rep. Lee (D-Elizabethtown), who chairs the Budget Review Subcommittee on Human Resources in the Kentucky House.  “This is a positive step toward improving care for Kentuckians who live with diabetes.”

The Centers of Excellence will link the patient, the primary care physician, local health department and community resources such as hospitals in order to improve care and the patient’s quality of life.  Ensuring that physicians are aware and engaged in disease management efforts for their patients will be a cornerstone of the program.

The 2006 General Assembly provided funding for the centers.  Health departments around the state submitted proposals.  The Department for Public Health (DPH) selected the six recipients for creative approaches to helping diabetics learn about their disease, including prevention of its side effects, and taking advantage of resources within the community in managing diabetes.

More than 15,000 Medicaid members have been diagnosed with diabetes in the 33 counties served by the district and county health departments selected to establish centers.

DPH will measure outcomes by tracking patient progress. The analysis will include a comparison of the number of doctor visits and medical costs to Medicaid, among other factors.

“We believe the change will be dramatic, hopefully showing a significant reduction in the number of visits to physicians and health care providers related to diabetes care and an ebb in health care costs attained by avoiding negative outcomes,” said Governor Fletcher.