CHICAGO and TAMPA, Fla., June 6, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Nearly 50 percent of sixth graders in Chicago Public Schools are overweight or obese, according to recent studies. To help physicians reverse this trend, Harmony Health Plan of Illinois, Inc., a subsidiary of WellCare Health Plans, Inc. (NYSE: WCG), is providing a $46,000 grant to the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (ICAAP) to support the initiative Promoting Health: Improving Patient Outcomes for Childhood Obesity through a Coordinated System of Care.
The ICAAP project will pilot a model of coordinated care for children who receive Medicaid benefits. Promoting Health will provide patient-centered care coordination services and facilitate connectivity among primary care health clinics, the Promoting Health care coordinator, and programs and resources in the community to support participants in maintaining healthy behaviors. The coordinated system is designed to reduce redundancy, leverage shared resources, and establish an IT infrastructure that allows for real-time data sharing and a feedback loop to health care providers.
A 2013 study released by the Chicago Department of Public Health and Chicago Public Schools showed that obesity rates can be even higher in predominately black and Hispanic communities.
"Studies show that childhood obesity has more than doubled in children aged 6-11 years and tripled in adolescents aged 12-19 years in the past 30 years. This puts children at higher risk for health problems like heart disease and diabetes," said Dr. Robert L. Hilliard, Jr., president, Harmony Health Plan. "Through this partnership with the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Harmony is helping physicians match at-risk children with local organizations that can support them in developing healthy habits."
"Linking pediatric patients and their families to supports in the community requires specialized knowledge. This includes the ability to address patient barriers and assess patient preferences as well as knowing the resources available in specific communities," said Mary Elsner, director of obesity prevention initiatives at ICAAP. "With Harmony's grant and participation, we can pilot a model of care to help patients connect more readily to programs and services in their communities to complement the care they receive from their health care provider."
"A healthy community is one where health care providers and community-based organizations are working together to support the needs of local citizens," said Enrique Salgado, senior community advocate for WellCare. "WellCare wants to do its part to support the health and well-being of its members, their families and communities at large."
Identified community-based programs include the Chicago Department of Public Health WIC Program, Cooking Matters, the University of Illinois-Chicago Partnership for Health Promotion, Girls on the Run, University of Illinois Extension Nutrition Education Programs and Childserv.
As of March 31, 2016, WellCare and Harmony Health Plan serve approximately
207,000 members in Illinois, including 164,000 Medicaid members, 15,000 Medicare Advantage plan members and 28,000 Medicare Prescription Drug Plan members.
About WellCare Health Plans, Inc.
Headquartered in Tampa, Fla., WellCare Health Plans, Inc. (NYSE: WCG) focuses exclusively on providing government-sponsored managed care services, primarily through Medicaid, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans, to families, children, seniors and individuals with complex medical needs. WellCare serves approximately 3.7 million members nationwide as of March 31, 20016. For more information about WellCare, please visit the company's website at www.wellcare.com or view the company's videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/WellCareHealthPlan.
The mission of the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (ICAAP) is to promote the right of all children to live happy, safe, and healthy lives, to ensure children receive quality medical, and to assess and serve the needs of its membership. ICAAP membership is comprised of more than 2,000 pediatricians in Illinois. Primary activities include advocacy on behalf of children, families, and health professionals in Illinois; the provision of continuing medical education and other resources for pediatricians, pediatric specialists, and other child health care providers; and collaboration with other state organizations and agencies on programs and projects that improve the health and well-being of children.
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SOURCE WellCare Health Plans, Inc.