SC medicaid agency hopes home visits cut costs


COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina's Medicaid agency hopes home visits steer patients away from expensive trips to the emergency room.

The idea involves sending people trained as community health workers to the homes of frequent ER visitors. Their tasks would range from setting up doctors' appointments to making sure medications are being taken properly.

Director Tony Keck says it's about helping people make better decisions.

The pilot is part of his agency's efforts to improve residents' health while reducing costs of the government program for the poor and disabled.

The agency is choosing up to 20 doctors' offices to participate in the pilot. The workers would be employed by those offices, not the agency.

The House Ways and Means' budget plan for 2013-14 includes $35 million in incentives for such cost-cutting programs.

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