Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein announced today that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has given the green light to the state's BAYOU HEALTH program.

"BAYOU HEALTH is already being touted as a national model for states looking to modernize their Medicaid programs," said Bruce D. Greenstein, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. "CMS approval is yet another validation of our effort toward achieving better health outcomes for Louisiana residents. I am proud of our team's dedication and hard work that got us here, but our real work is just beginning."

BAYOU HEALTH is the state's new approach to health care for 865,000 Medicaid and LaCHIP recipients. LDH has contracted with five health plans. Each eligible Medicaid and LaCHIP enrollee will select one of those plans, which are then responsible for coordinating that person's health care services.

This change moves Louisiana Medicaid from a purely fee-for-service system where doctors and other health care providers bill Medicaid for services provided. This system is based on volume of services and makes no adjustments for quality of care or coordination of care. Under BAYOU HEALTH,

Traditionally, the federal government handles, on average, about two-thirds the cost of Medicaid, while the state picks up the rest. Any changes to the delivery system must be submitted as an amendment to the State Plan that outlines how it operates Medicaid. CMS notified LDH today that its State Plan Amendment was officially approved.

BAYOU HEALTH will phase in over the next seven months with the first region (the four-parish New Orleans area and the Northshore areas) beginning member choice enrollment on Dec. 15 and going live Feb. 1.  The other areas of the state will phase in over 60-day increments following the first one.

The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow LDH's blog, Twitter account and Facebook.