Tyla Housman joined the Quality Institute this month as Senior Director.
Can you tell us about your new position at the Quality Institute?
I will be leading the QI Collaborative and directing other policy initiatives. The collaborative will continue with our learning network for the state’s certified ACOs and other community health care collaborations. I am eager to combine my experience in the executive and legislative branches and in the non-profit world to advance this important work. It really is an exciting time in health care policy innovation.
Can you tell us about your background and what experience you will bring to this position?
I have had the opportunity to work both inside and outside government — and that diversity will be valuable in my new role. I have worked on political campaigns, inside the governor’s office, for the legislature and most recently as the Director of Government Relations and Policy for the New Jersey Hospital Association. In that position I advocated on behalf of New Jersey’s health care providers. I can bring the provider perspective into conversations at the Quality Institute as well as address the role of government. I began my career in New Jersey after graduating Rutgers University with a B.A. in Political Science and History.
How important was Gov. Christie’s recent pledge during his State-of-the-State address to fund the state’s three certified ACOs?
By talking about the work of ACOs in such a public forum the governor showed the value of these community collaborations to improve health and change lives. If the funding comes through that will represent a level of support from the state that did not exist before. This is a critical time for me to come on board as ACOs enter this next chapter. The Quality Institute will help the certified and non-certified ACOs identify new areas of collaboration and funding.
How would you describe an ACO?
An ACO is an Accountable Care Organization, or a group of providers and community partners that come together to support some of our state’s most vulnerable patients. The ACO looks beyond physical health to also examine behavioral health needs and social needs. We know a trip to the emergency department is not enough to help a person with a chronic illness who also may have no place to live, or not enough food to eat, or a mental health issue. It’s been shown that a model that looks beyond physical health can improve outcomes and reduce costs.
How important is the recent Rutgers report that examined the $9.4 billion Medicaid spent in New Jersey in 2013.
The report was the first time any large-scale report examined Medicaid spending in this way. It found that 28 percent of total dollars was spent on just 1 percent of our state’s Medicaid recipients. So we know we have a small population of high utilizers, and the report found a high occurrence of mental health and substance abuse problems within that population. So, again, we have to go beyond just addressing physical health. The report supports the governor’s aim to try to address mental health and substance abuse across the state. The ACOs will play a critical role in this mission.