Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-28) today announced $2.5 million for the University of Buffalo’s Emergency Medical Services as one of the first recipients nationwide to be awarded with a Health Care Innovation Grant.

The competitive grant was awarded to UB Emergency Medical Services for the program they pioneered called “Better health through social and health care linkages beyond the emergency department.” The program identifies high-risk patients and links them to primary care, social and health services, education, and health coaching to keep them well. Health coaching and improved access to primary care is expected to result in lower ER utilization, reduced hospital admissions, and improved health with estimated savings of approximately $6.1 million.

Specifically, the program targets 2,300 Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries who have had two or more emergency department visits over 12 months at two emergency rooms in urban Buffalo, New York. These patients account for 29 percent of all emergency department patients; at one of these locations, 85 percent of all hospital inpatients are admitted through emergency department. Over the three year period, University Emergency Medical Service’s program will train an estimated 13 health care workers and create an estimated 13 new jobs. These community health workers will identify high- risk patients and link them to primary care, social and health services, education, and coaching.

“It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Buffalo is at the center of medical innovation. UB’s Emergency Medical Services is on the cutting edge of preventative care and is rightfully receiving national attention and some of the first ever national funding for innovation through the Affordable Care Act. One of the greatest cost savings in the health care industry comes from keeping people well. In addition, the program developed at UB estimates almost a 3:1 return on investment while creating jobs at the same time. In short, the program developed by UB will save money and save lives – that’s exactly what health care reform is all about.”

Made possible by the Affordable Care Act, the Health Care Innovation Awards will support 26 innovative projects nationwide that will save money, deliver high quality medical care and enhance the health care workforce. Today’s awards total $122.6 million and the preliminary awardees announced today expect to reduce health spending by $254 million over the next three years. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation is administering these awards through cooperative agreements over three years.

Slaughter holds a master’s degree in public health. For more on her work to protect public health, click here.

To learn about the benefits of health care reform in Western New York, click here.