Earlier this year, New Jersey leaders designated and funded Regional Health Hubs in the FY 2020 state budget, enabling partnerships across the state to expand and enhance health care. Now lawmakers are considering legislation to establish health hubs across the state to coordinate care and replace state Medicaid Accountable Care Organizations.

Today, New Jersey’s regional partnerships — THT, Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, Healthy Greater Newark, Health Coalition of Passaic County — integrate, coordinate, and align disconnected programs to improve patient care and outcomes, ultimately making communities healthier. Learn more about THT as a health hub.

NJSpotlight reporter Lilo Stainton talked with THT Executive Director Gregory Paulson about what the switch to health hubs will mean for New Jersey residents in her story, “Bill Would Remake ACOs as Health Hubs to Enhance Coordinated Care” (published December 5, 2019)

“A Medicaid program intended to improve care for New Jersey residents with complex health and social needs would get a statutory makeover under a new proposal. Although the current program applies to four urban areas, the proposed measure would enable officials to create additional regional collaborations.

The legislation, which is sponsored by Assemblyman Louis Greenwald (D-Camden) and scheduled for a committee hearing today, would establish regional health hubs to replace the existing Accountable Care Organization demonstration projects. These nonprofit-led initiatives seek to coordinate care among medical providers, insurance companies and social service organizations in Camden, Trenton and Newark. A similar initiative in Passaic County operates under a less formal charter…

Greenwald told NJ Spotlight that, given the success of these projects, it is vital that they continue — and that other regions have access to these benefits. “Just like the ACOs before them, these health hubs will aim to improve quality and access to healthcare through collaborative, innovative and cost-cutting methods,” Greenwald said. “Those methods include engaging local stakeholders to learn about their healthcare needs. They also include identifying patients who frequently visit the emergency room to implement preventative measures that improve their lives and cut down on the number of unnecessary visits.”

The proposal has strong support from ACO leaders and their allies, who have come to see the current law as a barrier to the success of their initiatives. They say the state’s 2011 ACO statute is overly focused on payment models, while the new legislation will allow them to have a broader regional impact and do more with the data they collect.

“We saw this as a way to move beyond the original legislation and properly frame what we’ve built in New Jersey as what we actually have been all along,” said Gregory Paulson, executive director of the Trenton Health Team, which leads the collaboration in that city. It also reflects lessons learned in other states, he said, including California and Oregon.” Read the full NJSpotlight story