Photo by John O’Donnell
As the president and CEO of Hudson Health Plan (HHP), Georganne Chapin already was responsible for insuring 60,000 of the most financially insecure Westchesterites when she founded an offshoot of HHP, Westchester Cares Action Program (WCAP), to which the Westchester Board of Health presented the 2012 Distinguished Public Health Service Award. The Board of Health cited WCAP for two reasons: First, it commended WCAP for its innovative hands-on and comprehensive approach to caring for and improving the health of vulnerable residents. But the Board also was impressed that WCAP works as well as it does while “potentially saving millions of dollars.”
In many ways, WCAP is emblematic of Chapin’s lifework, an effort not only to treat illness but to stop it before it starts, and to reduce costs to the overall system by doing so. Designed to improve health outcomes for chronically ill Westchester patients on Medicaid largely through better care integration, WCAP also has reduced the cost of caring for the sickest people in New York simply by making them less sick. Indeed, by some estimates, this high-use group accounts for 75 percent of the state’s Medicaid expenditures, so improving their overall health, Chapin feels, is a big part of lowering costs. Still, cost isn’t her only concern.
“Being able to get healthcare and stay healthy is a basic fundamental human right,” Chapin, 60, says. “It shouldn’t be even debatable.”
Chapin’s HHP itself has already achieved much of this goal of universal coverage: A community-based, not-for-profit HMO created in the mid 1980s, HHP makes state-sponsored government programs such as Medicaid Managed Care, Child Health Plus, and Family Health Plus available to those who may otherwise receive little or no healthcare. That means Chapin is responsible not only for those 60,000 here in Westchester, but for 110,000 in the Hudson Valley. And the work has paid off: HHP has earned the highest ratings in overall satisfaction among Medicaid Managed Care members in the Hudson Valley every year since 2003.
But her work hasn’t just been limited to HHP. In 2004, Chapin led the formation of the Hudson Center for Health Equity & Quality, another not-for-profit whose role is to act as a voice on issues of health policy and the use of technology to streamline eligibility for public insurance, and to improve the services delivered under these programs. “We talk to the regulators,” Chapin says. “We try to explain to them what the needs of our membership are, what our needs are in order to be able to serve our members. Healthcare is a social-justice issue.”