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Fairfield-based Partnership HealthPlan of California, a nonprofit managed Medi-Cal administrator across the North Bay, recently provided a total of $13.8 million in grants for health programs across its service area.

The health plan is providing the grants by way of "intergovernmental transfers," meaning the recipients put up matching dollars to the state, which then brings  the federal match. Partnership is then able to send the money to the recipients.

The recipients include: Sonoma County Department of Health Services, which received $4.3 million; Solano County Health and Human Services; which received $4.6 million; Yolo County Health Department, which got $1.9 million; Marin County HHS, which got $1.5 million; and Napa County HHS, which got $1.2 million.

All of the recipients have been successful in leveraging existing funds to qualify for the federal match, according to the health plan.

The payments are known as local Medi-Cal managed care supplemental payments. Under an agreement with Partnership, the funds will be used to provide health services in four main areas:  behavioral and mental health; case management and care coordination; specialty care access; and oral health. 

“These partnerships play a critical role in expanding desperately needed health care programs for the under-served in our area,” said Jack Horn, chief executive officer of Partnership. "We’re very pleased that the state and [Partnership] policy allow us to enter into such agreements.”

The agreements with each county took effect July 1 and last through Aug. 31, 2014. 

Partnership currently administers Medi-Cal payments across the six county North Bay region of Marin, Sonoma, Solano, Napa, Lake and Mendocino counties. However, it's currently in the process of expanding significantly into Northern California and will eventually include the following counties: Humboldt, Trinity, Del Norte, Lassen, Lake, Modoc, Shasta and Siskiyou.

The newly added Northern counties will bring approximately 100,000 new members to the health plan, on top of its current 200,000 members.

Partnership’s reimbursement to physicians includes a fee-for-service payment, capitation and additional incentives for taking on Medi-Cal recipients, versus a predetermined, non-negotiable state reimbursement.

It’s one of six such “County Organized Health Systems” that contract with the state to manage Medi-Cal patients and has annual budget of $928 million.***

Touro University California in Vallejo recently announced that Dr. Jean-Marc Schwarz and his research team have been awarded a National Institutes of Health grant of more than $3 million over the course of five years.

According to the university, the funding, awarded through the College of Osteopathic Medicine, will help to explore the role of meal composition and its frequency on cardiovascular disease risk.

The grant will help to provide new information on how two different diets -- one high in sugar versus the other high in fat -- and two different meal frequencies -- small frequent meals versus large meals -- affect lipid production after a meal and overall lipid profiles that affect the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The research "has the potential of developing evidence-based interventions and dietary guidance to mitigate cardiovascular disease risk and help rethink nutritional advice and policy," according to the university.

"The past few decades heralded an era of high carbohydrate diets, some of which are now known to worsen lipid profiles and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease," the university said.

Dr. Schwarz’s research team includes Dr. Kathy Mulligan of UCSF as co-principal investigator, Dr. Alejandro Gugliucci of Touro, Dr.  Morris Schambelan and Dr. Susan Noworowlsky of UCSF, as co investigators as well as postdoctoral fellows, consultants and research associates at Touro and at UCSF.

The National Institutes of Health has awarded more than $8 million toward research at Touro University for projects that include adaptation of a novel RNA virus for vaccine use; structure-based discovery and development of HIV-1 fusion inhibitors; and metabolic impact of fructose restriction in obese children.***

Marin General Hospital said it is re-launching a total arteriosclerosis management program aimed at preventing or reversing the process of heart disease.

The initial program, known as TAM, was first developed by the Cardiovascular Associates of Marin in 1993. The program operated independently with financial support from nonprofit Heart Health Institute until 2010 when it was purchased by that organization with the goal of expanding its reach and accessibility.

Two years ago, Marin General agreed to take over the TAM program with fundraising support from the Marin General Hospital Foundation.  It has since been on a two-year hiatus during its reorganization and preparations for its new home, according to the hospital.

In early 2012 the Marin General finalized the acquisition of the 14-physicain Cardiovascular Associates practice, along with five other practices throughout Marin County, as part of an effort to increase is physician base.

The program is effective, the hospital said -- it includes an intensive, eight-week session in which participants who are at high risk of heart disease work with a psychotherapist, a cardio-physiologist, dietician and cardiologist to change health habits. It involves a fitness training plan coaching, stress management, group support, psychological risk screening, nutritional counseling, computerized dietary analysis and other educational materials.

Since its original opening, TAM has held 75 intensive, six to eight-week sessions serving over 800 patients....

Submit items for this column to Business Journal Staff Writer Dan Verel, dan.verel@busjrnl.com or 707-521-4257.