By Sam Baker - 10/24/11 04:33 PM EDT
The Health and Human Services Department launched a new initiative Monday in its push to cut healthcare costs.
The new program, which was authorized under healthcare reform, gives bonus payments to community health centers that provide primary care to Medicare beneficiaries. The department will provide $42 million over three years.
By expanding access to basic primary care, HHS hopes to reduce emergency-room visits and help patients manage long-term conditions such as diabetes.
The money will go to 500 health centers in 44 states, HHS said.
“When patients are able to use a health center as their primary source of care, it helps primary care doctors, nurses and specialists coordinate their care,” Medicare administrator Don Berwick said in a statement. “Health centers will also use health care dollars more wisely as patients receive the right tests, right medications and right treatments in the right setting.”