Leavitt to help Louisiana rebuild healthcare system

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The Department of Health and Human Services is planning to help Louisiana restructure its healthcare system in the wake of the hurricane disasters of 2005, the Baton Rouge Advocate newspaper reported.

Nursing homes in the area have concerns over reimbursement levels and the inability to meet demand for services because of a shortage of employees. In addition, more than a dozen New Orleans area nursing homes have not been able to reopen since the hurricanes hit.

Secretary Michael Leavitt has "shown a particular interest in how Louisiana rebuilds," according to Fred Cerise of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. Leavitt plans to visit the state next week.

Officials are considering changing Medicaid, Medicare and uncompensated-care payments. The idea is to create a system that provides financial incentives to doctors and other providers who emphasize prevention to reduce overall illness, injury and disabilities, according to the Advocate.