AmeriHealth Caritas marked the opening of its new headquarters at the Christiana Executive Campus on Monday.
The company was awarded a state contract for Medicaid services beginning in January and has been ramping up operations. The managed care company has signed agreements with the state’s hospital systems.
It now employs more than 220 at its new Delaware operations, with upwards of 400 Delawareans employed at its operations in the Delaware Valley.
The contract is based on participation in the state’s value-based purchasing care initiative through contracts in its Medicaid Managed Care Program.
AmeriHealth Caritas succeeds United Healthcare as a Medicaid provider.
In 2014, Delaware’s per capita health care costs were more than 27 percent above the U.S. average, ranking the state third-highest in the country, behind only Alaska and Massachusetts.
The state also ranks in the bottom half – No. 30 – for overall health, according to the 2017 America’s Health Rankings.
The message at the event Monday centered on improving the overall health of the state’s population covered by Medicaid.
AmeriHealth Caritas CEO Paul Tufano said the goal is for members to access the health care system “through the front door” through preventative care rather than the “back door” (the emergency room).
Tufano said it is unfortunate that the term “entitlement” has been used in regard to Medicaid, noting that 70 percent of those in the program for those with lower incomes are working.
Contributing to the state’s high health care costs for Medicaid and non-Medicaid patients is a high incidence of chronic conditions at least partially attributed to lifestyle, poverty and poor diets that lead to a high rate of obesity. Examples are heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
Gov. John Carney told AmeriHealth Caritas managers and staff that hard work lies ahead in providing a high level of care in a cost-effective manner.
Delaware government has been dealing with rising health care costs, not only with Medicaid but also with health care for state workers.
About 200,000 of the current 225,000 Medicaid clients in Delaware are served by Medicaid’s two managed care organizations, Highmark Health Options Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware and AmeriHealth Caritas Delaware.
Caritas Delaware Market President Emmilyn Lawson praised the work of employees and corporate staff in getting the company up and running under a tight schedule.
AmeriHealth Caritas plans to open a wellness center in an effort to encourage more people on Medicaid to get routine services.