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Local health partnership approved

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A partnership between the Redwood Community Health Coalition and three of Sonoma County's largest health centers has been approved by the federal government as an accountable care organization for 7,000 Medicare patients in Sonoma and Napa counties.

The newly formed ACO will work toward coordinating better care for patients and reducing health care costs, said Steven Ramsland, CEO of Redwood Community Health Coalition and the newly formed entity.

The ACO, which will be called the Redwood Community Care Organization, is only the second in the nation to be affiliated with federally qualified health centers.

The Redwood Community Health Coalition is a consortium of 16 health centers in Napa, Sonoma, Marin and Yolo counties. Of the various ACO models that are now being approved by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the local entity has been set up as a shared savings ACO for Medicare patients.

The ACO will coordinate care for some 7,000 Medicare patients in Sonoma and Napa counties. The organization will be rewarded by the federal government if it can meet certain quality and cost criteria, with cost savings being split 50-50 between the ACO and the government.

“This is a mechanism with which to reduce the fragmentation in the current health care delivery system and to identify the people with the greatest needs and essentially wrap services around those people so they can lead healthier lives,” said Ramsland.

The ACO is affiliated with the local coalition but is a separate entity that was founded by the coalition, Petaluma Health Center, Santa Rosa Community Health Centers and West County Health Centers. The coalition's other clinics will be participating providers.

ACO staff will attempt to track patients, particularly those with chronic health conditions, to ensure they receive the care and medication they need. Electronic health records, which are used at all the coalition's health centers, will be used to track a patient's care, regardless of which health center the patient visits.

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