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Healthcare Network CEO Says Some Good May Come From Effort to Repeal Affordable Care Act

Time Warner Cable News | December 2016

Some Good May ComeDr. Raul Vasquez is the head of Greater Buffalo United Accountable Healthcare Network. It is one of the biggest healthcare networks in the region.

Many of its clients get healthcare thanks to the Affordable Care Act. But now with the future of the act in jeopardy, many people are worried.

"21 million people aren't going to lose their insurance tomorrow. That's not the way this country functions and we have a lot of legal and a lot of. The way I see it is you get into a room, and then once you're inside the room you see what's inside the room. I think Trump hasn't seen that room yet. And when he gets in, he's going to see the limitations he has in terms of the amount of changes that he can bring forth," said Vasquez.

Vasquez says while it is unlikely the Republican-controlled Congress will be able to do away with the Affordable Care Act in its entirety, he does see some major changes coming.

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An Innovative Medical Practice is Blooming on Buffalo’s West Side

The Buffalo News | October 2016

YourCare Partners with GBUACODr. Raul Vazquez had never visited Buffalo when he applied to the University at Buffalo’s medical school 30 years ago. Today he’s one of the area’s most active physician-entrepreneurs.

The Fordham University graduate grew up in the projects in the South Bronx, the son of parents from Puerto Rico. He was drawn to studying medicine after seeing his Uncle Joe Gonzalez, and their neighbors, struggle to get the proper care for their asthma and other ailments amid a language barrier, poverty and limited access to transportation.

Vazquez flew up to Buffalo on the old People Express airline – “You paid on the plane. Thirty-five dollars round-trip.” – and never left. “I was energized. I said, ‘This is where I want to go,’ ” he recalled.

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Medicaid Accountable Care Organizations: State Update

Center for Health Care Strategies, Inc. | September 2016

With the imminent launch of the Greater Buffalo United Accountable Care Organization (ACO), New York is the 10th state to implement a Medicaid ACO program. This CHCS fact sheet describes the components of Medicaid ACO programs and details the state-based Medicaid ACO programs currently underway in 10 states. It also shares promising results from four state Medicaid ACOs -- Colorado, Minnesota, Oregon, and Vermont.

Across the country, states are exploring the viability of Medicaid accountable care organizations (ACOs) that align provider and payer incentives to focus on value instead of volume, with the goal of keeping patients healthy and costs manageable. To date, 10 states have launched Medicaid ACO programs, and six more are actively pursuing them.

This fact sheet from the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) walks through current progress for Medicaid ACOs. It provides a definition for ACO and describes how emerging state programs are seeking to drive accountability through three key activities: (1) implementing a value-based payment structure; (2) measuring quality improvement; and (3) collecting and analyzing data. It also provides a glimpse of some early state successes.

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YourCare partners with physician providers on new pilot

Buffalo Business First | September 20, 2016

YourCare Partners with GBUACOYourCare Health Plan has signed on as the first health plan to participate in a new accountable care organization program in Buffalo aimed at helping reduce costs and improve care for Medicaid recipients.

The Rochester-based health plan, which serves 55,000 individuals on government health plans like Medicaid and Medicare, signed a three-year agreement Tuesday to partner with the Greater Buffalo United Accountable Care Organization as it develops the state’s first Medicaid accountable care organization.

The ACO model brings together groups of health care providers, insurers and community groups to coordinate care for members with a goal of reducing costs and improving health care outcomes. GBUACO received approvals last month from the state Department of Health and is now working to sign up partners and members. Its provider network also includes physicians associated with the Greater Buffalo United Accountable Healthcare Network, MASH, Dent Neurologic Institute and Western New York Medical Group.

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Greater Buffalo United Independent Practice Association lands State’s first health value program

Panorama Hispano News | September 14, 2016

State’s first health value programThe Greater Buffalo United Accountable Care Organization, an affiliate of the Greater Buffalo United Independent Practice Association, was authorized by the state Department of Health last month as the state’s first Accountable Care Organization, a model that pays groups of providers to work together to reduce costs and increase health care outcomes.

How ACOs work

  • Local health care providers and hospitals volunteer to work together to provide you with coordinated care.
  • The doctors and other providers who are helping care for you will communicate with each other, and partner with you in making health care decisions.
  • You may spend less time filling out medical history paper work because your doctors may already have this information in an electronic health record.
  • You’ll likely have fewer repeated medical tests because your doctors and hospitals will share information and coordinate your care.
  • You’ll be in the center of care, and your doctors will be better able to keep you informed, and to keep listening and honoring your choices.

Unlike HMOs, managed care, or some insurance plans, an ACO can’t tell you which health care providers to see and can’t change your Medicare or private insurance benefits.

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New Health Care Group Aims to Streamline Services

Time Warner Cable News | September 9, 2016

Streamlining ServicesBUFFALO, N.Y. – A local doctor announced a new organization Thursday that could help make finding and delivering health care services more convenient.

The Greater Buffalo United Accountable Care Organization, or GBUACO, was revealed by Dr. Raul Vazquez, who runs the Urban Family Practice on Niagara Street.

"With GBUACO as an accountable care organization, we take on that duty to manage, to make sure that that patient, when they have a particular problem, they get taken care of at the right place at the right time with the right people," said Vazquez.

The New York State Department of Health authorized GBUACO to operate as a Medicaid and commercial insurance accountable health organization. Vazquez says that will free up doctors to better treat patients.

"You're kind of becoming a physician again,” said Vazquez. “Our description of an [accountable health organization] is kind of eliminating the barriers so that when a doctor says they need a drug, or a test, or whatever it is, it just gets done.”

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New health care organization opens in Buffalo

WBFO 88.7 | September 8, 2016

New health care organizationA new patient-centered healthcare organization is opening in Buffalo.

The President and CEO of Greater Buffalo United Accountable Care Organization, Dr. Raul Vazquez says, the group's focus is on increasing quality of services and patient satisfaction.

Vazquez says, doctors are the only prescription for managing healthcare costs not insurance companies.

"They have good ads and things like that. But when it comes down to, 'I'm the one in the room touching that person's life, not someone that's in an office,' I think that's what we're trying to do, is bring that relationship back, that's been hurt by the current system," Vazquez said.

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Clock Ticking for Lead Testing in All New York Elementary Schools

Time Warner Cable News | September 8, 2016

The Clock Is TickingBUFFALO, N.Y. -- A new measure, signed this week by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, requires all New York state schools to test water for lead contamination. It's a persistent problem in Buffalo and across Erie County.

Doctors say lead exposure can cause neurological impairments in children.

"Water quality is key," said Cuomo, D-New York. "The more we learn about our water, in all different dimensions, the more we have reason to be concerned, frankly.

"We want to start with our children, make sure our children are safe. That starts with testing the water that is actually in the schools and coming out of the fountains."

Elementary schools must complete lead testing by the end of September. Schools with older children have until the end of October. Buildings found to have high levels of lead will have to implement plans to fix the problem.

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Buffalo Health Group Lands State's First Medicaid Value Program

Buffalo Business First | September 8, 2016

NY State's First ProgramA Buffalo group is among the first groups in New York state to pilot a new value-based payments program for Medicaid recipients.

The Greater Buffalo United Accountable Care Organization, an affiliate of the Greater Buffalo United Independent Practice Association, was authorized by the state Department of Health last month as an accountable care organization, a model that pays groups of providers to work together to reduce costs and increase health care outcomes.

It’s part of a new pilot program that brings together health care providers and Medicaid managed care organizations to coordinate care for patients.

The group ultimately will receive financial incentives for reducing unnecessary emergency room visits and duplicative costs for Medicaid patients in the same way that federal ACO programs work for Medicare patients. Catholic Medical Partners operates the region’s only ACO through the federal program through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The program has seen mixed results in the programs first three years.

The GBUACO will include 140 Buffalo-area providers, including physician providers at the Greater Buffalo United Accountable Healthcare Network. The program will accept both ACO and commercial payment models.

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Medical group that caters to Medicaid plans $5 million facility on West Side

The Buffalo News | August 4, 2016

$5 Million FacilityA fast-growing three-year-old health care organization that helps low-income Medicaid patients in Buffalo obtain medical services is seeking to consolidate its administrative and health care workers in a new building to be constructed on the city’s West Side.

The Greater Buffalo United Accountable Healthcare Network, or GBUAHN, wants to build a four-level, 40,000-square-foot medical office building on Seventh Street to house its community health workers, patient advocates, doctors and staff, who are now scattered in several locations around the city. The $5 million project would be located at 505 Seventh St., directly behind the Urban Family Practice facility at 564 Niagara St., which is also run by GBUAHN’s CEO, Dr. Raul Vazquez.

If approved by the city’s Planning Board at its meeting on Monday, officials hope to break ground July 27, with hopes for a spring 2017 completion and opening.

Founded and officially designated in 2013 under the Affordable Care Act, GBUAHN is a Medicaid “health home,” created to work with patients who have at least two chronic illnesses – such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease – or serious mental illnesses, and who need help getting through the health care system to receive care. The program coordinates care, provides transportation and other services, and even helps them find food, clothing and shelter if needed. According to Vazquez, as many as 130,000 of the 204,000 Medicaid recipients in Erie County would qualify for “health home” services.

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Buffalo's Lower West Side will be home to $5 million integrated medical care facility

WBFO 88.7 | August 3, 2016

Groundbreaking!Buffalo’s Lower West Side is now the future home of a $5 million integrated medical facility. Groundbreaking for the Greater Buffalo United Accountable Healthcare Network’s newest project took place Wednesday afternoon in a grass and gravel lot on Seventh Street.

GBUAHN Chief Executive Officer Dr. Raul Vazquez said the planned 40,000 square-foot building will combine elements of health and wellness never before seen together in the West Side community.

“We’ll have nutritional classes, we’re putting about a quarter-million dollars in exercise equipment for employees and members. We have our community health workers that are going to help people with disease management and health coaching on that floor. The first floor on top is primary care and behavioral. Those two systems have never really worked together and a lot of the costs of ER and in-patient care has been because of that,” said Vazquez.

Vazquez said that with the reduction in ER and in-patient care the facility will provide, those lowered costs will be seen by Medicaid, insurance companies, and individual patients that GBUAHN works with. The facility will also house a cancer treatment center, nutrition services, a pharmacy, ambulatory csurgery center, imaging center, laboratory, 24-hour call center, and GBUAHN’s administrative offices.

“We’re tying in, not just managing a patient in the office. We’re managing in this community, creating these medical neighborhoods, which I find are crucial,” said Vazquez. He believes having all of a patient’s needs taken care of under one roof is the answer for effective healthcare.

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GBUAHN Health Facility to Break Ground

Buffalo Rising | July 29, 2016

New Facility!Greater Buffalo United Accountable Healthcare Network (GBUAHN) has scheduled a groundbreaking for its $5 million, 40,000-square-foot medical facility. Shovels will go in the ground on Wednesday, August 3, 2016, (12:00 noon) at 505 7th Street on the city’s lower West Side. According to GBUAHN, this is the singular largest commercial development on the lower West Side in the last 25 years. The medical campus will offer residents a full range of healthcare services, to a neighborhood that is purportedly lacking in such amenities.

"The building will feature a variety of physicians’ and specialists’ offices, a cancer treatment center, nutrition services, a fitness and wellness center, pharmacy, ambulatory surgery center, imaging center, laboratory, and a 24-hour call center."

“This will be an exciting addition to our community,” said Raul Vazquez, MD, GBUAHN chief executive officer. “It will help decrease the fragmented healthcare that has been at our end of the city for a long time.”

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West Side medical practice preps $5M expansion

Buffalo Business First | July 28, 2016

$5M ExpansionIt took three years and as many different designs, but a medical practice expansion on Buffalo’s West Side is finally ready to begin.

The Greater Buffalo United Accountable Healthcare Network will break ground Aug. 3 on a 40,000-square-foot, two-story addition to its existing site on 7th Street. With a project cost of $5 million, the expansion will bring a series of services together in one site that are now scattered around at eight GBUAHN practice sites in the city.

The original plan, filed with city officials in 2013, called for spending $2 million on a 17,600-square-foot expansion.

That plan was scaled up last summer to a $10 million, three-story facility based on the success of the practice’s home health program. The plan also called for two additional expansions at other GBUAHN sites in Lackawanna and on the East Side, where the practice wanted to add 20,000 square feet. But funding from a state capital grants program failed to materialize, which led to the decision to focus on the West Side first, said Dr. Raul Vazquez, CEO at GBUAHN.

“Instead of doing all three at one time, we’re going to do this one, finish and then start the others,” he said. “I’d rather end up with a great product and not get caught up in the plan.”

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Another Way Affordable Care Act Could Bring About Visual Change in Buffalo

TWC News | July 8, 2016

Visual Change in BuffaloBUFFALO, N.Y. -- As a health navigator for the Greater Buffalo United Healthcare Network (GBUAHN), Hannah Bourque has about 90 clients she works with to help find the medical services they need.

Watch Video News Report >>

"We reach out to all of our members every month to try to touch base talk to them, get anything that they need. We also meet with them on a monthly basis at their home at their providers office. They come into the office, I talk their calls, whatever comes up we try to tackle it that day head on," said Bourque.

Since it was launched three years back, under the Affordable Care Act, GBUAHN helped match thousands of Buffalo and Erie County residents with health care services they need.

"In terms of our members, we're just short of 6,000 right now," said GBUAHN CEO Dr. Raul Vazquez, MD, who said its the 7th largest of its kind in the state. Vazquez says with 160 staff members already, GBUAHN is adding about 20 new people every month.

That's why GBUAHN is looking to expand. Vazquez wants to build a four-story, 40,000 square foot medical office on Seventh Street right behind the Urban Family Practice building on Niagara Street in Buffalo. Vazquez says the new building will allow consolidating all services under one roof.

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