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Weight Watchers program helps Medicaid patients drop pounds

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When West Virginia ranked third in the nation in obese and overweight residents, it turned some heads in California. Reason: While Unicare, a division of Wellpoint, is located in California, it provides Medicaid coverage to 75,000 people in West Virginia.

Unicare teamed up with Weight Watchers to offer a free, 16-week course to West Virginians age 10 and up who have a physician’s referral and a body-mass index that qualifies them as overweight.

Doctors referred 250 patients to the program in the first few months. Unicare sees weight loss as a tool for improving health and for helping defeat diabetes and heart disease, says John Monahan, president of state-sponsored business.

Weight Watchers will report participant progress to Unicare so it can measure the program’s effectiveness.

Contact: Mary Beth East, director of health services at WellPoint State Sponsored Business, at (805) 384-3525.  

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