Governor Kaine Announces Public-Private Partnership to Improve Health of State Workforce
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Governor Kaine Announces Public-Private Partnership to Improve Health of State Workforce 

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COVA Connect pilot project to serve state employees and families in Hampton Roads.

Richmond, VA — June 11, 2009 — Governor Timothy M. Kaine today announced the creation of COVA Connect, a public-private partnership between Optima Health and the Commonwealth of Virginia to implement the state’s vision for comprehensive healthcare management. Slated to begin July 1, 2009 the regional pilot project will serve approximately 17,000 people – 8,300 state employees and their family members – in seven localities in Hampton Roads. The initiative is designed to lower operating costs, reduce transaction time for customers, and improve customer satisfaction, understanding, and health of the Virginia state workforce. The regional pilot project will also use technology to coordinate data on participants’ health, allowing them to make informed medical decisions and allowing the early detection of risk-factors for disease.

“If we're going to tackle comprehensive health care reform in this country, we also have to address health,” said Governor Kaine. “By improving coordination between health care providers and facilitating consistent case management, we can identify preventive care opportunities and ensure better health outcomes for participants.”

State employees in Hampton, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake and Poquoson will participate in the pilot initiative, which is designed to lower operating costs and reduce transaction time for customers while promoting overall customer satisfaction, understanding, and health. Program participants will be asked to complete a confidential Personal Health Profile featuring detailed questions about their personal health. These answers will allow for early identification of risk factors, such as smoking or obesity. Once risk factors are identified, participants will have the opportunity to meet with a Health Coach as needed for one year, providing the patient with targeted advice and plans to reduce their risk factors for disease and live a healthier

COVA Connect will also give state employees access to the programs and services offered by Optima Health at no additional cost. A wide array of programs are available, including those on making smarter choices with food, quitting smoking, encouraging heart health, and exercises tailored to people capable of moderate physical activity.

The state is also leveraging its volume of participants to obtain the best rates for services. COVA Connect will also increase transparency of healthcare plans, so all parties know exactly what their premiums are purchasing. Negotiating for the “unbundling” of plans will allow for the purchase of only the coverage needed.

The goal of COVA Connect is not only to create healthier employees and reduce absenteeism, but also to reduce overall health care costs through early detection of serious illness and disease, thereby reducing the need to use insurance. Periodic evaluations will occur to assess participation in healthy lifestyle programs, and the usage of patient’s insurance. Data collected can then be benchmarked and compared to other programs across the state, and if proven effective, comprehensive healthcare management can be deployed across the state.

Five state agencies across multiple Cabinet Secretariats examined 10 submitted proposals, and Optima Health of Virginia Beach was awarded a multi-year contract to operate the regional demonstration project. COVA Connect is being developed under a program authorized by the General Assembly to increase efficiency in government through public-private partnerships. It also incorporates the goals Governor Kaine set out in Executive Order 42 which encourages transparency and accountability in healthcare.

“Optima Health is excited to partner with the Commonwealth in an effort to improve the health of its employees through this pilot project and looks forward to building lasting relationships with our fellow Virginians," said Michael M. Dudley, Optima Health's President & CEO.

The Commonwealth’s comprehensive care management vision which the pilot will test “is truly groundbreaking,” said Joe Marlowe, a senior vice president of Aon Consulting, which serves as the actuary for the state health benefits plan. “[I]t will mark [the Commonwealth] as a leader among state employee medical plans and private industry.”


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