Wednesday, October 16, 2013

REACH Foundation funds effort to get Wyandotte residents insured

By MIKE SHERRY, Kansas Health Institute

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The REACH Healthcare Foundation plans to underwrite a coordinator to help Wyandotte County residents obtain health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

Pattie Mansur, spokeswoman for REACH, said the foundation would work with the Community Health Council of Wyandotte County and that details were being finalized.

Mansur said REACH recognized a particular need in Wyandotte County, where more than a quarter of the population lacks health coverage, according to the regional health assessment the foundation released in June.

The Wyandotte County Public Health Department, which is part of the community health council, also is spearheading the Enroll Wyandotte campaign with several community partners.

The department is working through the Health Services action team it established through the Healthy Communities Wyandotte initiative. Enroll Wyandotte leaders have scheduled a kick-off event for the effort for 4 p.m. Oct. 22 at Kansas City City Hall.

Related efforts

The Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved (KAMU) is mounting a statewide effort to help residents register for plans in the new federal health insurance marketplace. It heads a consortium that received a federal “navigator” grant.

The consortium plans to have four paid staffers work in regions around the state, including the northeast, said KAMU Executive Director Cathy Harding.

Those four will coordinate the efforts of approximately 220 volunteer “navigators” around the state, many of whom will take on the additional duties as part of jobs they already hold at various social service agencies, Harding said.

There are two other Kansas groups that received federal navigator grants.

Ascension Health is focusing on Wichita and the surrounding counties through Via Christi Health.

The other is a Virginia-based company, Advanced Patient Advocacy, which is working mainly with Overland Park Regional Medical Center and Menorah Medical Center in Johnson County. The company already has a business relationship with the hospitals, according to a company spokesman.

The health reform marketplaces were launched on Oct. 1, but problems with the federal registration website have hindered sign-ups.

Critics of the Affordable Care Act, including U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, have said the problems of the marketplace rollout support their calls to repeal the law.

Roberts last week said that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius should resign because of the sign-up problems.
‘Details confusing’

The Kansas Insurance Department plans to hold its final stop on an informational tour about the health insurance marketplace in Wyandotte County on Oct. 22. The department has scheduled the meeting for 7 p.m. at the Donnelly College Events Center in Kansas City, Kan. (map).

El Centro, a KCK-based social service agency serving the Hispanic community, is one of the partners in Enroll Wyandotte.

Representatives from the organization participated in a health screening event held Saturday in Kansas City, Kan.

They were there to talk about their full range of services, but much of the traffic early in the day was people seeking information about the health insurance marketplace.

Federal officials were supposed to be there to help people enroll, said Irene Caudillo, El Centro’s chief program officer, but were not because of the partial shutdown of the federal government.

Lucy and Rolando Pla, a married couple from Roeland Park said they had hoped to get assistance in signing up for health insurance at the health fair.

Both are in their 20s, and they have no children, so they said they were not thrilled at the Affordable Care Act mandate that requires them and most adults to have health insurance.

Also, they said the details were confusing.

“It is really hard to decide,” Rolando Pla said.