Friday, February 24th, 2012 - 11:51
Friday, February 24, 2012 - 10:30
Urban development idea translated to health care
In the ever renewing efforts to find ways to improve care, Kaiser News reports that leaders in Maryland have latched onto Health Enterprise Zones (HEZ) as a way to reduce disparities, particularly among minorities. Enterprise zones build on reduced taxes, targeted federal and state tax incentives and regulatory relief to encourage investment in hard-hit areas where access to care and other determinants of health are leading to less than ideal outcomes.
The idea emanates from recommendations by the Maryland Health Quality and Cost Council Health Disparities Workgroup, and has been endorsed by state leaders like Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown and University of Maryland School of Medicine Dean Dr. E. Albert Reece. The focus of Maryland HEZ's would be creating incentives for primary care providers to establish practices and integrate care with community based organizations. Furthermore, funds would be set aside to build health IT infrastructure with a focus on management on chronic illnesses.
Stuart Butler from the Heritage Foundation, who years ago helped develop the original "enterprise zone" in the urban development sector, cautions modeling the approach. The main issue that gums up effective implementation has been targeting appropriate programs that achieve results when big dollars and tax benefits are at stake, particularly when big-city politics intervene. In spite of those issues, Butler sees potential for applying a free market approach to health disparities.