Department of Vermont Health Access and UVM Medical Center Partner to Make Innovative Chronic Pain Care Accessible to More Vermonters
PATH Program Provides Comprehensive, Holistic Treatment for Individuals Experiencing Chronic Pain
Burlington, Vt. – The Department of Vermont Health Access (DVHA) and the University of Vermont Medical Center announced today that Vermont Medicaid is entering a pilot program which will provide its members the ability to participate in the Partners Aligned in Transformative Healing (PATH) program at UVM Medical Center’s Comprehensive Pain Program, a clinical arm of the Osher Center for Integrative Health at UVM. Up to 100 Medicaid members suffering from chronic pain will be able to participate in the pilot program.
Launched in 2019, PATH is a 16-week outpatient program that approaches chronic pain from a “whole person” perspective, melding conventional medical treatment with complementary therapies. Through the program, participants are afforded access to a range of integrative therapies – many, such as reiki, massage therapy, culinary medicine, and yoga, not previously covered by Medicaid. In addition, participants will engage in group and a variety of other therapies, including psychologically informed physical therapy, health coaching, nutrition, and occupational therapy. The program has demonstrated success in improving participants’ level of comfort and the ability to engage in activities meaningful in optimizing the quality of each individual’s life. By treating chronic pain holistically, PATH participants gain a variety of skills and techniques to manage symptoms, increase comfort, and improve function.
Access to this approach to care for Medicaid members is a first nationally. Only a few comprehensive programs of this type currently exist in the United States, and their costs can easily put them out of reach for many. The PATH program is unique in this regard. DHVA and the UVM Medical Center have collaborated on an innovative bundled payment model that allows patients access to the full program for one fixed price, rather than billing separately for each visit and service type.
“We are delighted to collaborate with Medicaid and now have the opportunity to offer this whole-person approach to individuals who receive their health care coverage through Medicaid. A crucial component of our mission is working to eliminate disparities in access to care. Our agreement with DVHA is a tremendously important step forward in this direction,” said Jon Porter, MD, Medical Director of the Comprehensive Pain Program and Director of OCIH.
“We are excited to be partnering with UVM Medical Center on this pilot and proud that Vermont will be the first Medicaid program in the country to participate in this in this type of program. Bringing The Comprehensive Pain Program’s whole-person approach to our members, who too often experience barriers to care and fragmented care, is a huge step forward in health equity,” said Dr. Michael Rapaport, DVHA’s Chief Medical Officer. “The improvements in quality of life for program participants, as well as the reduction in both the use of pain medication and invasive interventions, demonstrate how the value-based payment model can lead to better care and better outcomes.”
PATH participants must meet certain eligibility criteria and must be referred into the program by their physician. Each cohort is limited to 10-12 people, and group work is a core component of the approach.