July 31, 2014

State looks to improve medical care for foster kids

Federal officials have approved the creation of a “medical home” program for Wisconsin, which will allow foster children to receive all aspects of their care from one central provider. Department of Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith says it will greatly improve the quality of care for those kids by having one provider responsible for all of the care they receive.

Smith says the medical home approach allows care to be tailored to the specific needs of each foster child. That mean those children will see their primary care physician through one facility, along with any mental health and additional services that may be required.

Smith says the new system of care will help save the state money on Medicaid services, and also provide more accountability for the care children in the foster care system are receiving.

It can prevent overlaps in treatment as well. Smith says there are cases where foster children have been over medicated because they are seeing too many different doctors. He hopes the new approach will prevent those situations from ever happening.

The pilot project will launch as early as this fall in six southeastern Wisconsin counties, with about 2,500 kids covered. The program will initially run in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, Kenosha, Ozaukee, and Washington counties, although Smith says it could expand to more of the state in the future.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:08)