In 2014, the Affordable Care Act will require payors to cover treatment of obesity. Medicaid wants a cost-effective approach to provide this intensive intervention, and offices require adequate reimbursement for these services. If Medicaid follows the Medicare reimbursement rate, it is not financially viable for physicians to be the interventionists. Medical offices in California typically have medical assistants, who are bilingual and from the community, and make <$20/hour. We will evaluate the effectiveness of medical assistants as certified health coaches for Medicaid patients utilizing Medicare’s reimbursement model. These medical assistants will link participants to community resources supporting behavioral therapy. This project is innovative because of the use of medical assistants to effectively (including cost-effectively) provide behavioral weight loss treatment to Medicaid patients; and, the partnership between UC San Diego with ACE leverages resources and expertise.
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