A new model of health care for Medicare beneficiaries in Florida lands in Jacksonville in 2016, and its creators are offering a sneak peek just in time to make coverage changes for the new year. The federal government’s annual Medicare enrollment period ends Dec. 7, 2015 for benefits starting Jan. 1, 2016.

Florida Blue and Alignment Healthcare are opening six clinics in Florida, including two in Jacksonville, to provide more comprehensive and personalized care to Florida Blue Medicare Advantage members through a new plan called BlueMedicare Preferred HMO. The plan is open to all Medicare Advantage members, and the Alignment Healthcare Centers are designed for those with chronic conditions and those who can benefit from more closely integrated and coordinated care to achieve better health.

Alignment Healthcare Centers are a resource for members and their primary care physicians, offering personalized, integrated, and comprehensive disease management programs for chronic conditions such as diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and congestive heart failure, as well as wound care and pre-operative and post-hospitalization care.

The centers feature state-of-the-art technology including wireless telemedicine options for those with chronic health problems who may need monitoring at home. Remote monitoring kits can send biometric information to the care center and alert the care team to issues such as low blood sugar or sudden weight change, depending on the member’s condition. An Alignment Healthcare clinician will be in touch with the member within minutes of receiving an alert.

In Jacksonville, the care centers are located at 3520 St. Johns Bluff Road, and 5500 Blanding Blvd. The centers each feature eight exam rooms, a wheelchair-accessible scale and on-site laboratory to provide a one-stop shop for care.

"This innovative, supplemental care that our BlueMedicare Preferred HMO members will receive through this partnership is the future of health care; and we are able to bring it to the community today. It will improve health outcomes, particularly for those with chronic illness," said Luisa Charbonneau, Florida Blue vice president, Government Markets. "Members will continue to see their primary care provider, and then will have Alignment there to support their health whenever it is needed. We are truly excited to offer this unique solution for our members."

Plan members also will benefit from advanced coordination and alerts to Alignment staff triggered by more than 70,000 proprietary algorithms developed by Alignment Healthcare that are designed to lower the risk for member hospitalization. If a member is referred to a specialist, for example, the Alignment system would receive an immediate alert based on the insurance claim. Referrals to a neurologist could mean serious long-term cognitive problems down the road, so that alert would trigger communication to the primary care physician, a visit to the care center, counseling with the family, and home safety assessments to reduce the risk of falls.

"Alignment Healthcare is committed to improving the health care experience by bringing together doctors, hospitals and insurance plans into a single team dedicated to maintaining each individual member’s health and well-being. We are excited to bring Alignment’s model of care to Florida, where we can serve as an additional resource for patients and their primary care physicians." — John Kao, CEO and president of Alignment Healthcare

The new care centers are exclusively for Florida Blue’s BlueMedicare Preferred HMO members, offering comprehensive services to assist a member’s primary care physician including nutritionists, podiatrists, mental health professionals, social workers and case managers. In Jacksonville, BlueMedicare Preferred HMO includes a select network of community physicians and St. Vincent’s HealthCare providers and hospitals.

A dedication ceremony is scheduled at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 1, at the St. Johns Bluff location, followed by guided tours. The public is invited to attend.

Medicare open enrollment currently is underway for those interested in enrolling in the BlueMedicare Preferred HMO for 2016. They can visit the Florida Blue Centers at the St. Johns Town Center or River City Marketplace for in-person help, contact a local Florida Blue agent, go online to www.floridablue.com or call 1-800-876-2227 for additional information. The BlueMedicare Preferred HMO is available to residents of Clay, Duval, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota counties.