February 10, 2014

Contact: Susan Lamontagne, RCHN CHF,, 917-568-0969

Foundation Seeks to Improve Health Coverage Enrollment in States Limiting Medicaid Expansion 

$1 million will support community health center efforts to enroll hard-to-reach populations

NEW YORK, NY—With enrollment efforts hampered in states that have imposed restrictions on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the RCHN Community Health Foundation is helping community health centers to overcome these and other barriers and connect more people to coverage.

The Foundation is investing $1 million in select states that have imposed restrictions on Medicaid expansion and plan enrollment, with $600,000 distributed to statewide primary care associations in Maine, Missouri, and Wisconsin. The remaining funds are designated for community health centers in New York and California to enroll hard-to-reach populations, such as the working poor, young invincibles, and non-English speakers.

“Reaching and enrolling the uninsured is essential to turning the promise of health reform into a reality,” said Feygele Jacobs, president and CEO of the RCHN Community Health Foundation. “Our support is focused in states where residents must navigate politically-driven barriers to health coverage so that we can connect our nation’s most vulnerable residents to care.”

The project grantees are:

The following is a brief overview of each grant/project:

Maine Primary Care Association, $200,000
Eighteen of Maine’s 19 community health centers will work under the leadership of the primary care association to expand enrollment in a state that has not expanded Medicaid and where residents must rely on the Federal exchange to secure health care coverage. Health centers will train their staff in outreach and enrollment, invest in technologies to improve enrollment efforts and develop community-based strategies to reach the uninsured and other vulnerable populations. “The people of Maine need and deserve access to high quality primary care to stay healthy and well,” said Vanessa Santarelli, CEO of the Maine Primary Care Association. “We are pleased to receive this grant funding to support our efforts to connect individuals to health care coverage, as well as a medical home.”

Community health centers involved in the project include: Bucksport Regional Health Center, DVD Russell Medical Centers, East Grand Health Center Inc., Eastport Health Center, Fish River Rural Health, Harrington Family Health Center, Health Access Network, HealthReach Community Health Centers, Islands Community Medical Services, Maine Migrant Health Program, Nasson Health Center, Penobscot Community Health Care, Pines Health Services, Portland Community Health Center, Regional Medical Center at Lubec, Sacopee Valley Health Center, Sebasticook Family Doctors, and St. Croix Regional Family Health Center.

Missouri Primary Care Association, $200,000
Prior to implementation of the ACA, Missouri created a demonstration project in St. Louis City and County called “Gateway to Better Health” (Gateway) that provided coverage for uninsured adults earning up to 133% of the federal poverty level. However, starting January 1st, 2014, Gateway no longer covers those between 101% and 133% of the federal poverty level, resulting in thousands of residents without coverage. The Missouri Primary Care Association (MPCA) will work to identify and reach Gateway members who lost coverage and enroll them in coverage. Here again, Missouri has not expanded Medicaid and residents must rely on the Federal exchange. “This is about keeping people in care,” said Joseph Pierle, MPA, CEO of the MPCA. “We will work to reach out to those who have lost coverage and encourage them about the importance of getting and staying covered so that there is no interruption in their health care.” Grant partners for this project include the Betty Jean Kerr People’s Health Centers, Grace Hill Health Centers, Myrtle Hilliard Davis Comprehensive Health Centers, and Family Care Health Centers, all located in the St. Louis area.

Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association, $200,000
“We are working to enroll as many Wisconsin residents as possible,” said Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association (WPHCA) Executive Director Stephanie Harrison. The WPHCA will partner with Enroll America, AmeriCorps, and seven of the state’s community health centers to inform uninsured individuals about new coverage options and helping them navigate enrollment on the Federal exchange. Wisconsin has not expanded Medicaid and residents must use the Federal exchange to obtain coverage. In addition, Wisconsin is one of several states that have imposed barriers on navigators, such as background checks, finger printing, and liability insurance. The WPHCA project will help health centers to overcome these hurdles. Health centers working with the WPHCA on this effort include Northern Health Centers, Progressive Community Health Center, Partnership Community Health Center, NorthLakes Community Health Center, Bridge Clinic, Waukesha Community Health Center, and the Kenosha Community Health Center. “Our focus will be to help the people of Wisconsin get their health coverage and care needs met,” said Harrison.

Asian Health Services, $200,000
In California, where the state has expanded Medicaid and its online marketplace has been one of the most successful, community health center enrollment efforts are focused on populations with cultural and language barriers. Asian Health Services (AHS) will launch “Got Coverage?” a project to reach young invincibles, test a new multilingual mobile application for enrollment, and train staff in enrollment processes. “Within the first few months, we opened a new eligibility center and counseled more than 1,300 people and assisted with 500 applications for coverage,” said Sherry Hirota, CEO of AHS. The organization will also use a mobile van to expand outreach, with a particular focus on limited English speakers and young invincibles. AHS grant partners include Asian Immigrant Woman Advocates, Asian Pacific American Student Success, Koreana Plaza in Oakland, and Enalitix, a software development firm.

Morris Heights Health Center, $71,834
New York’s state exchange has been one of the most successful in the country; however, enormous gaps in coverage persist among vulnerable populations. In partnership with the New York State Department of Health, Lehman College, and the Food Bank of NYC, the Morris Heights Health Center (MHHC) will work to insure nearly 300,000 uninsured Bronx residents via its “Health Matters” project. Efforts will include developing a training module for health care professionals and others to explain the ACA and enrollment procedures and using its mobile van to help eligible residents navigate the insurance exchange. “When our most vulnerable residents can obtain quality health care, we all benefit,” said MHHC’s CEO Verona Greenland, RN, CNM, MPH. “We will remain focused on populations that continually fall between the cracks. That is, after all, the mission of community health centers – to care for those most in need.”

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The RCHN Community Health Foundation is a not-for-profit operating foundation established to support community health centers through strategic investment, outreach, education, and cutting-edge health policy research. The only foundation in the U.S. dedicated solely to community health centers, RCHN CHF builds on a long-standing commitment to providing accessible, high-quality, community-based healthcare services for underserved and medically vulnerable populations. For more information, visit