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Under a program created by the Affordable Care Act called the State Innovation Models Initiative, six states — Arkansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon and Vermont — began testing new health care financing models this year. Colorado, New York, and Washington will be next up to try their cost-containment experiments, with another 16 states waiting in the wings. About $10 billion of the ACA's $1.8 trillion projected total cost is devoted to the program, which is overseen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "The idea is to take governors up on their claim that states are the laboratories of democracy where meaningful innovations can occur," said Susan Dentzer of the nonprofit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. A common thread among the state approaches is getting more people connected to "patient-centered medical homes" where "care coordinators" can ensure they receive proper preventive care, and managing chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease with medicine and lifestyle changes instead of expensive hospitalization. But some states are also trying other things. For instance, Vermont intends to find out if it can reduce health care costs by spending more on schools, on the premise that people who are more educated tend to be healthier (STATELINE.ORG)
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