Montana Uses Patient-Centered Medical Homes to Holistically Address Children’s Health Needs

Montana recently expanded its Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) program benefits to most children enrolled in Medicaid and the state’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Montana enhanced its PCMH program by:

  • Expanding the pool of approved providers;
  • Increasing the number of quality measures that must be tracked; and
  • Adding complex care management (CCM) – a coordinated care approach designed to help patients and caregivers better manage medical conditions and co-occurring psychosocial factors and reduce hospitalization.

The primary goal of broadening these benefits is to promote the health of children through better preventive care and to appropriately treat chronic diseases by increasing primary care visits and encouraging healthy habits. Over time, the state hopes that this strategy could reduce emergency room visits and drive down costs associated with care.

Montana broadened the eligible providers and services offered to Medicaid and CHIP recipients by integrating the PCMH program with the state’s existing Comprehensive Primary Care Plus (CPC+) initiative that began in 2017. To integrate these programs, Montana aligned its quality measurement and data collection work, so that both initiatives gather and report on the same measures. The state requires that PCMH providers:

  • Obtain National Committee for Quality Assurance accreditation;
  • Apply to become a PCMH provider; and
  • Report on 21 quality metrics. These metrics include management of A1C control in diabetic patients, blood pressure control in hypertension patients, behavioral health screenings and referral to necessary treatment, preventive screenings, and age-appropriate immunizations.

The ultimate goal of PCMHs is to deliver high-quality, cost-effective care by engaging enrollees as stakeholders in their health. The state also recently began building an infrastructure to help ensure the PCMH program is sustainable – these efforts include developing new information technology systems to standardize data collection.

Montana’s work to develop its PCMH model first began in 2009 after the state received a technical assistance grant from the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) to advance the multi-payer Patient-Centered Medical Home Initiative that included Medicaid and CHIP children. Two years later, the state’s PCMH working group was reorganized and is now an official state advisory council comprised of insurance companies, medical providers, public agencies, and consumer advocates.

In 2013, the initiative was enacted with provisions defining expectations and requirements for these medical homes, and a PCMH pilot program was implemented in 2014 that included four federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) and a hospital. That same year, PCMH benefits became available to Medicaid-enrolled children, and in 2017 coverage was expanded to CHIP enrollees. Montana uses a third-party administrator to oversee CHIP members. The third-party administrator uses both the PCMH and CPC+ model, however, they are not the same as the state-run program and do not include the CCM program.

The CCM model engages a comprehensive team of health care professionals. In Montana, the team includes a primary care physician, a licensed nurse, a behavioral health professional, and a social worker in order to treat patients multi-dimensionally. Teams may manage up to 30 members in the CCM program and members must be attributed to the practice through the PCMH model. To be eligible, enrollees:

  • Must have two or more chronic conditions;
  • Be open to intense, in-home care coordination; and
  • Have visited the emergency room multiple times in the last 60 days or had more than one inpatient hospital stay in the last six months.

To access PCMH care, a child’s medical provider must participate in the program.

The non-physician members of the CCM teams try to meet with the member in his/her home and then collaborate with the PCP to design relevant interventions and preventative services based on the teams’ observations. Meeting with the member in his/her home may not happen initially, but it is important to understand the patient’s physical environment to create a holistic treatment plan. These visits must happen at least weekly for the first three months and then at least monthly for the next three months. Visits occur based on the needs of the patient and usually happen more often than required by the program.

The program seeks to engage the member and his/her family in order to meet all of the needs of the household and connect members to appropriate resources. The teams assess other factors affecting the patient’s well-being, such as social determinants of health at the initiation of and conclusion of PCMH appointments to measure the effectiveness of the intervention.

The state’s next steps are to create performance-based incentives for physicians to promote the quality of care, and to continue to refine the PCMH model to address the unique needs of children in Montana.

For more information about states’ efforts to implement patient-centered care models, see more NASHP resources on  delivery system reform and primary care and medical homes.