Category Archives: MPCA Updates

An Update for Michigan’s Health Coverage Outreach and Enrollment Assisters

As you may have heard, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Energy & Commerce Committee is holding hearings to uncover why HealthCare.gov isn’t functioning well. On Thursday, October 24, 2013, committee chair Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI) began the hearings by questioning the contractors tasked with creating the website. While it’s important to find out why the website glitches exist and persist three weeks into the first Health Insurance Marketplace open enrollment period, it is more important to remember that the Affordable Care Act is a law, not a website.

About four hours of testimony (you can watch it here), as well as countless media reports, tell us there are problems with the consumer experience on the website, problems with the system that determines eligibility, and problems with the data hand-off to insurers (834 form). All of those processes are expected to work more smoothly by the end of November, according to the contractors now overseeing the project. This graphic from the Washington Post breaks down what’s wrong with HealthCare.gov. This graphic from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services  explains what it’s doing to fix HealthCare.gov. In short, the Administration recognizes that the website’s problems are beyond too many people visiting at once, so it’s implementing a strategy it believes will alleviate the frustration many Americans have felt as they’ve attempted to enroll in affordable health coverage.

So where does that leave the hundreds of people across Michigan who have completed hours of federal training and strategized their outreach and enrollment efforts around this website? It provides opportunities to:

  • Continue educating our communities
  • Engage in more outreach now and schedule appointments later, allowing for a consistent flow through the next 150+ days of open enrollment
  • Voice our opinions about how to improve systems
  • Compile other community resources and learn more about how to connect people to a health care home, not just to an insurance card

We have to do our best to inform those relying on us as a resource through the enrollment process that, eventually, the website will work. If it doesn’t work when we need it to, we’ll forge through the paper application and complete the plan selection and enrollment at a later date. The bottom line is, we will do everything within our power to help our neighbors receive the benefits of the Affordable Care Act – whether it is the benefits that are already available, or the benefits to come starting January 1, 2014. We can assure the residents of our communities that they won’t be penalized for not having coverage on January 1, and that some may even qualify for an exemption.

We should also be prepared to answer questions about Medicaid expansion.  According to a Michigan Primary Care Association (MPCA) analysis, about 124,000 of Michigan Health Centers’ adult patients who are currently uninsured will likely be eligible for coverage under Healthy Michigan, the state’s newly expanded Medicaid program that is expected to be available around April 1, 2014. As we encounter questions about Healthy Michigan, we should have systems in place at our sites to capture information so that when the application is open and available, we can connect eligible individuals to coverage.

For those currently eligible for tax credits and/or cost-sharing reductions through the Health Insurance Marketplace, but who will also be eligible for Healthy Michigan coverage down the road, we recommend they apply in the Marketplace now and sign up for text message updates from MPCA so they are notified when the Healthy Michigan Plan opens for enrollment. Text “InfoMI” to 69866 to sign up. Those who are not eligible for tax credits and/or cost-sharing reductions now, but who will be eligible for Healthy Michigan coverage down the road should also sign up for the text messaging program and visit www.enrollmichigan.com to learn about the free and low-cost health care services available now.

Even as I type this message to you, HealthCare.gov is not fully functional, and it looks really, really, really bad, but I’m confident that the site will be revived. In the meantime, there’s plenty of work for us to do to help our communities. We’ll undoubtedly hear a lot more about HealthCare.gov and the Affordable Care Act in the next few weeks from the media, family, and friends, but I advise you to use facts when assisting clients and remember to act in their best interest. Congressman Sander Levin (D-MI) will speak during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing this morning, and on Wednesday, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will give testimony during an Energy and Commerce Committee hearing.  MPCA continues to follow developments as they happen, and we’ll continue to support you as you work diligently to enroll people in affordable health insurance.

–Natasha Robinson, MPCA Program Specialist, Outreach, Education, and Enrollment

31 Michigan Health Centers Awarded Funds to Assist Consumers with ACA Health Insurance Enrollment

By Natasha Robinson, MPCA Communications Specialist

Michigan Health Centers will help nearly 100,000 uninsured Michigan residents learn about and enroll in health insurance programs.

Michigan Health Centers will help nearly 100,000 uninsured Michigan residents learn about and enroll in health insurance programs.

Nearly 70 new outreach and enrollment workers will be hired at Michigan Health Centers to help enroll 100,000 uninsured Michiganders in health insurance programs, and the Michigan Primary Care Association (MPCA) will receive funding to support those efforts.

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) funded 31 Health Centers across the state with awards ranging from $59,000 to $269,056. The Health Centers plan to hire 69 new outreach and enrollment staff and assist nearly 100,000 people with enrollment into affordable health insurance programs. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said the supplemental funding, issued by HRSA, complements and aligns with other federal efforts, such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services-funded Navigator Program.

“Health Centers already are a hub in their communities for providing comprehensive primary and preventive health care, connecting residents to local resources, and much more,” said MPCA Chief Executive Officer Kim Sibilsky. “We are pleased that Michigan Health Centers will be able to hire so many outreach and enrollment workers who will infuse their local communities with hands-on help to educate Michiganders about the Affordable Care Act and to enroll them in affordable health care coverage. MPCA is also glad to receive supplemental funds to support and coordinate outreach and enrollment efforts at the Health Centers. ”

MPCA will receive $139,564 in supplemental funding from HRSA to ensure that Health Centers have timely and necessary information about their state’s consumer assistance training requirements and rollout of new affordable insurance options; coordinate Health Center outreach and enrollment activities with other consumer assistance efforts in the state; provide technical assistance and training on effective Health Center outreach and enrollment strategies; and monitor successes and barriers to health center outreach and enrollment activities.

The Health Center’s trained application assisters will help consumers with enrollment in Medicaid, MI Child, and Health Insurance Marketplace plans. More than 100 Health Center staff across the state already assist Michiganders access health coverage. Nationally, 1,159 Health Centers were awarded $150 million in supplemental funding.

“Having trained, face-to-face assistance in enrollment from trusted resources at local Health Centers means that more people will get the help they need,” said HRSA Administrator Mary Wakefield, PhD, RN.

Genesee Community Health Center Chief Executive Officer Tim Lawther said they are thrilled to receive nearly $62,000 to help Flint’s most vulnerable residents enroll in health insurance programs like Medicaid and the new Health Insurance Marketplace.

“Over 90 percent of our patients without any health insurance will qualify for this expanded care under the Affordable Care Act, and we expect to help at least 9,000 of our most at-risk neighbors get connected to the help they need so that their families can lead better, healthier lives,” Lawther said.

Visit http://1.usa.gov/12r2chQ for a chart that lists the Health Centers receiving funds.

Governor Snyder Visits Family Health Center of Battle Creek to Promote Medicaid Reform, Expansion

By Natasha Robinson, MPCA Communications Specialist

Contributed Photo. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder visits Family Health Center of Battle Creek to speak with group about Medicaid expansion and reform.

Contributed Photo. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder visits Family Health Center of Battle Creek to speak with group about Medicaid expansion and reform.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder visited Family Health Center of Battle Creek on Wednesday, June 26, 2013, as part of a statewide tour urging state Senators to vote on the “Healthy Michigan” plan.

The stop was one of several Governor Snyder made in West Michigan as part of a series of informational meetings he’s holding called “A Conversation with the Governor” to discuss the urgent need for the state Senate to vote on the Healthy Michigan plan (House Bill 4714). This legislation would expand affordable health care coverage for almost 500,000 Michigan residents while encouraging healthier lifestyles to reduce health care costs. The Michigan House passed HB 4714 with bipartisan support on June 13, but the Senate adjourned last week for summer recess without taking a vote on the measure.

At Family Health Center of Battle Creek on Wednesday, about 120 attendees heard from Governor Snyder, former State Senator and Congressman Joe Schwartz, and others with impactful stories on why Medicaid expansion and reform is important and urgent. Governor Snyder asked that Michigan residents call their state Senators often to urge them to come back in session to vote on the bill.

It is CRITICAL that every supporter urge their State Senator to vote “Yes” on HB 4714 to save Michigan lives and money.

To ensure the State Senators hear loud and clear that they MUST vote on HB 4714, four statewide “call-to-action days” have been scheduled for July 2, 3, 17, and 18. We need YOU to email and call your Senator on ALL FOUR DAYS.  Contacting your Senator on just one of those days is not enough. As we have seen, the opposition is fierce and vocal, and Senators MUST hear from more people who support expanding health insurance coverage in Michigan than from those who oppose it. Click here to take action, and then share this link (http://bit.ly/12tyv5b) with others and ask them to take action too!

The Battle Creek Enquirer quoted Family Health Center CEO and President A.J. Jones, who said: “I called our Michigan senator, Mike Nofs, and said, ‘I’m not understanding why you don’t vote yes on this.’ It’s going to make us a better community, a healthier community, and we can demonstrate as you heard today 6,000 people who would be added to the Medicaid roles [sic], who would not be using the emergency room.”

Governor Snyder’s tour continues this week and next in additional communities across the state. Watch MPCA’s Facebook for news regarding Medicaid expansion, and sign up for our weekly eUpdate to have news delivered to your inbox each Friday.

MPCA Welcomes Wayne County Healthy Communities as a New Member

Michigan Primary Care Association (MPCA)—the membership association representing Health Center organizations and other community-based providers in Michigan—welcomes Wayne County Healthy Communities (WCHC) as its newest member.

Photo by: Paul Gomez  Edith Killins, Director, Wayne County Health and Human Services Department, poses in front of the new Wayne County “Healthy Communities” Hamtramck Health Center located at 11447 Joseph Campau in Hamtramck.

Photo by: Paul Gomez
Edith Killins, Director, Wayne County Health and Human Services Department, poses in front of the new Wayne County Healthy Communities Health Center located at 11447 Joseph Campau in Hamtramck.

Wayne County Healthy Communities is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) that opened earlier this year in Hamtramck to serve Wayne County residents. The Health Center celebrated its grand opening on February 14.

Wayne County Healthy Communities’ services and programs include primary health care, pediatric medicine, adult medicine, prenatal care, pediatric dentistry, behavioral health, and WIC services. The Health Center is the only one in Hamtramck that serves residents regardless of their insurance or ability to pay. Wayne County Healthy Communities is open Monday through Friday and appointments can be made by calling 313.365.1362.

Today, MPCA is the voice for 35 Health Center organizations and other community-based providers in Michigan. These organizations provide comprehensive, affordable, accessible, quality primary and preventive health care for over 600,000 Michigan residents at more than 200 sites located in both rural and urban communities across the state each year.

First Person: Cherry Street Health Services Centers Services around Patients

By Natasha Robinson, MPCA Communications Specialist

Nine Michigan Primary Care Association staff, including me, took some time yesterday (Wednesday) to visit Cherry Street Health Services’ Heart of the City Health Center in Grand Rapids. Of course, the 45 minute ride is a way to bond with co-workers casually while carpooling. In one car we talked about relationships with others and the variety of Health Center services offered across the state. In another car, I heard they discussed health policy. As we met up at the Health Center, it was very easy to notice clear signage in English and Spanish, lots of natural light, and monitors on the walls showing important messages related to health and Cherry Street services.

There was a staffed reception area right in the center, and the first floor sprawled out to different hubs – Pediatrics, Dental, Pharmacy, Vision, Adult Medicine, and Counseling – with ample waiting room space, clean restrooms, and a reasonably priced vending machine with healthy options. The staff was courteous and helpful, directing us to the second floor to meet with Sharon Barton, Director of Development, and Mike Reagan, Chief External Relations Officer, for our tour.

The second floor was less busy – mostly because the hubs are administrative offices, the Durham Clinic, and behavioral health. But there was tons of natural sunlight and a beautiful sprawl of plants overlooking the central reception area. I was already impressed with this newer building and the customer service provided. I was familiar with Cherry Street Health Services as an organization mostly because of its AmeriCorps program. But I was eager to learn more.

Cherry Street Health Services staff Sharon Barton and Mike Reagan talk about the Health Center's services.

Cherry Street Health Services staff Sharon Barton and Mike Reagan talk about the Health Center’s services.

Mike and Sharon took us through a PowerPoint presentation that focused a lot on how they manage the care of patients with chronic illness. They highlighted the innovative Durham Clinic – still a work in progress, but showing promising results for improving outcomes – among all of the other services offered at their various sites. The Durham Clinic, which opened less than two years ago, integrates primary health care and behavioral health services by connecting all types of providers and linking them to patients with chronic conditions. The clinic is sort of the shining star of patient-centered care because it’s designed to help them make improvements to their lives the best way they can. The providers, a crew of internists, licensed social workers, case managers, and more, meet daily to review cases and discuss what messages to reiterate to their shared patient. Their goal is to help equip the patient with the tools they need to help manage their own health.

There are more than two dozen Cherry Street sites located throughout the state but centered in and around the Grand Rapids area. The Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) has grown since it merged with Touchstone innovare and Proaction Behavioral Health Alliance in October 2011 and currently serves about 60,000 patients.

The staff we met is committed to great outcomes for their patients and happy with the work they do, and where they do it. Some of them are even patients. It’s great to know that the on-site pharmacist can work personally with providers and patients to give them an optimal medication regiment. The pharmacist also takes the time to be hands-on with pharmacists in training, who one day may serve in FQHCs. There are nurses whose positions are dedicated to serving children with special needs who are patients at the clinic.

MPCA staff that visited Cherry Street has duties that range from accounting to technical support to access technical assistance to clinical technical assistance. Our level of FQHC background knowledge varied from little to expert. And many of us walked away thinking the people, the place, and the services offered were high quality and sort of even better than what we’ve seen at our private physician offices.

Cherry Street's STEAM room is another innovative way to help kids regain health and fight obesity. They learn about health and nutrition, and work out in a supervised setting.

Cherry Street’s STEAM room is another innovative way to help kids regain health and fight obesity. They learn about health and nutrition, and work out in a supervised setting.

My work in outreach and enrollment and in communications with MPCA has shown me that Health Centers across the state are all working hard to provide the best they have for their communities. I’m glad that places like Cherry Street Health Services exist and continue to grow and innovate in a way that encourages the best for its patients, its staff, and its community. We at MPCA are also thankful that they opened their doors to this experience to show us the work that’s been done, and to share the work that’s in progress. Kudos to CEO Chris Shea and his team – from leadership, to providers and clinical staff, to maintenance and building supports – for creating and nurturing a welcoming environment for patient-centered care

Baldwin Family Health Care Chief Dental Officer Recognized at Dinner

By Natasha Robinson, MPCA Communications Specialist

Marilyn Stolberg, DDS, was recognized by MPCA CEO Kim Sibilsky and MPCA Clinical Specialist Diane Rydahl earlier this month.

Marilyn Stolberg, DDS, was recognized by MPCA CEO Kim Sibilsky and MPCA Clinical Specialist Diane Rydahl earlier this month.

Michigan Primary Care Association (MPCA) recognized Baldwin Family Health Care’s outgoing Chief Dental Officer Marilyn Stolberg, DDS earlier this month during its Dental Leadership Dinner in East Lansing.

Stolberg, who has served as a representative for clinicians on MPCA’s Board of Directors, is retiring from Baldwin Family Health Care on June 7, 2013. Her retirement means she is no longer able to serve on the board as a Clinical Representation.

Stolberg said she was proud to represent dental interests at MPCA Board meetings and other meetings, and continues to be committed to supporting Health Centers.

“We took a moment at the Dental Leadership Dinner to recognize Dr. Stolberg for her time, expertise and passion for Health Centers and their mission, and for participating on the MPCA board as oral health representation, and on the Clinical Advisory Committee,” said MPCA Clinical Specialist Diane Rydahl.

MPCA hosted its first Dental Leadership Dinner to promote networking among Michigan Health Center dental leaders the night before the Michigan Oral Health Coalition’s Annual Conference.

2013 Recruitment and Retention Conference Coming Soon!

By Natasha Robinson, MPCA Communications Specialist

2013 recruitment and retention conference branding imageMichigan Primary Care Association’s 2013 Recruitment and Retention Conference is less than a month away! The conference, scheduled for June 13 in Lansing, will focus on “Getting Your Health Center Workforce Ready for Health Reform Implementation.” Spearheaded by MPCA’s Workforce Development Program Specialist Kimberly Benjamin, the day-long conference will feature speakers and panelists from state officials, to benefits consultants, to your Health Center peers.

Finding and keeping quality team members is crucial to a Health Center’s success. This year’s conference will include sessions on topics from recruitment best practices, to tips for getting your Health Center ready for full implementation of the health reform, to compensation packages that appeal to providers. Plus you’ll have the opportunity to hear from a panel of experts on physician recruitment, as well as network with your peers and colleagues. Click here for the complete agenda and to register.

Conference attendees in the past have spoken highly of the organization, timeliness, and content provided during the day. Several noted the following on their anonymous evaluations:

  • “Everyone was knowledgeable about the topic and gave real-life examples.”
  • “Good information that can be used for other positions as well as doctors.”
  • “Congrats to Kimberly Benjamin and MPCA team. Most organized meeting I’ve attended. Great opportunity to meet others from CHC and network and learn best practices.”
  • “Extremely well presented by all. Kimberly Benjamin is phenomenal. Great forum.”

The registration fee for the conference is $120 for Michigan Health Centers or Community in Health Center Development, and $150 for other organizations. Discounted hotel reservations are available if you reserve the room by May 23 by calling Candlewood Suites directly at 517.351.8181 and using the group name “Michigan Primary Care Association.”

As the Workforce Development Program Specialist, Kimberly Benjamin designs and implements workforce development initiatives to increase the effectiveness of workforce recruitment and retention programs for MPCA. She has 22 years of human resource experience working for Fortune 500 Companies such as General Motors, Ford Motor Company, ITT Industries, Wal-Mart, Toys-R-Us, Kelsey Hayes and Cornerstone Schools. She teaches human resource management and entrepreneurship classes at The University of Michigan College of Business, Wayne County Community College, Concordia University, and the Kingdom Business Institute.