May is here, which means warmer weather is on its way, and school is almost out of session for summer break!  But it also marks the annual kickoff of a very important season of giving  – Nebraska’s Community Giving Days.  During specific days in the month, communities all around the state rally around hundreds of nonprofits to help raise money and awareness for their organizations.  The Giving Days is a 24-hour event where excitement and energy is generated around giving to local organizations.

However, choosing a nonprofit to give to can be intimidating.  Which one do you choose?  This year, we at HCAN would like for you to consider giving to any one of our Nebraska community health centers. In Nebraska, the community health centers served over 94,000 patients last year.  Nebraska’s community health centers ensure that all individuals have access to high-quality medical, dental, and behavioral health care, regardless of ability to pay.   Health centers are the safety net providers in the state, ensuring comprehensive, community-based, culturally appropriate healthcare in a compassionate and respectful environment.

Ninety percent of our patients are low income, and one out of every four uninsured individuals in our state receives care at a health center.  In fact, Nebraska has the second highest rate of uninsured patients across all health centers in the nation, with nearly 50% of our patients lacking health insurance.

When thinking of where you will be donating to this year, please consider giving a donation to any one of the community health centers in Nebraska.  Even the smallest gift can make a big difference to the patients we serve.  Your gift will directly help those vulnerable populations who would otherwise not have access to primary and preventative care.  For many patients, health centers may be the only source of health care services available in their community. You have a chance with your donation to make a powerful, yet critical difference in many lives.

During the month of May and the Giving Days to come, please take a moment to find your community’s Giving Day at http://www.nonprofitam.org/?page=GivingDays and choose one of Nebraska’ community health centers. Your donation is appreciated!

-Angela Lindstrom

Integrated Marketing Director

Health Center Association of Nebraska

The Certified Application Counselors (CACs) and other assisters throughout the state of Nebraska rocked Open Enrollment 5! The concert was executed smoothly with a nice balance of lights to complement the music.

How many consumers enrolled?

This year, 88,213 Nebraskans signed up for health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Why is this a big deal?  Take a look at the enrollment numbers for previous years and you can see why assisters are rejoicing.

 

For 2018 coverage:   88,213   5th open enrollment   November 1, 2017 – December 15, 2017

For 2017 coverage:   84,371   4th open enrollment    November 1, 2016 – January 31, 2017

For 2016 coverage:   87,835   3rd open enrollment    November 1, 2015 – January 31, 2016

For 2015 coverage:   74,152   2nd open enrollment   November 15. 2014 – February 15, 2015

For 2014 coverage:   63,776   1st open enrollment    October 1, 2013 – March 31, 2014

Note: CMS started to report state-level plan selection figures after January 9, 2015.

 

All hands were on deck to help spread the word about open enrollment. I probably annoyed many people by using my personal social media platforms to educate those I know. What was enlightening to me were the stories shared by individuals who were able to find affordable health insurance.

On Healthcare.gov, there was a tool that allowed consumers to explore the plans offered in their state. While many of the prices listed were high, many consumers were surprised by how affordable a plan was for them once they completed an application and were able to see what tax credits and/or cost sharing reductions they received.

In fact, many consumers were able to receive free health insurance. That’s right – many qualified for free plans based upon their income.

So, as I stated before, the assisters in Nebraska rocked hard. Fans at the concert enjoyed the performance, especially the epic encore.

To everyone that helped ensure a successful concert…..Great work! We did it.

 

 

 

 

-Keshia Bradford, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Health Center Association of Nebraska

 

 

*https://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Fact-sheets/2017-Fact-Sheet-items/2017-12-28.html?DLPage=1&DLEntries=10&DLSort=0&DLSortDir=descending

Get Ready for a Performance of a Lifetime!

The crowd is ready…

The performers take the stage…

The curtain goes up…

The performers play and the crowd goes wild!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s how I think about the outreach and enrollment staff at the health centers. They practice (train) for the Open Enrollment and once it begins, all that practice (training) begins to take hold.

How is Open Enrollment going?

Rockin’! Open enrollment is going very well. Signing up has been going well for many consumers and Certified Application Counselors (CACs) at the health centers. Despite the lack of advertising funding used to promote Healthcare.gov and reduced number of trained assisters, more consumers are signing up for health insurance plans than expected. Each week, we are seeing enrollment numbers climbing higher. In fact, enrollment numbers this year are higher than in years past based upon the same number of days into Open Enrollment. In Nebraska we have enrolled 32,759 from November 1st to November 25th.

Counselors from the health centers have reported that many consumers have been shocked by how affordable their health insurance has been. For many, qualifying for the tax credits has helped tremendously lower their monthly payments.

There have even been a few consumers remark how nervous they were about how much their insurance was going to be until they were able to see for themselves how affordable their plan was.

Health center CACs are seeing their schedules bustling with appointments and walk-ins. We still have a couple weeks before Open Enrollment ends (December 15th). We are anxiously awaiting the final enrollment numbers.

In other words, the performers are in the middle of their set. The crowd is enthusiastically reacting to the music.

Will there be an encore after the final set? Stay tuned.

 

-Keshia Bradford, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Health Center Association of Nebraska

 

 

 

 

 

What does rock have to do with enrollments? Everything. Yes, everything. Hear me out.

Background

Here at HCAN, I have been rocking out to new information at the federal level and providing updates to the Certified Application Counselors (CACs) in a timely manner. Back in September, there was a 1½ day rock concert (training) filled with a variety of sessions that complemented the required federal CAC training. Since the concert, weekly updates have become more important as new information becomes available.

New information

Examples of information that has been shared:
• 2018 Open Enrollment begins November 1st and ends December 15th 2017- only 45 days long.
• Affordable Care Act (ACA) is still the law.
• Tax penalties still exist. Depending on income, you can be subject to a fine of $695 or 2.5% of your income, whichever is greater.
• Medica is the only insurance company in Nebraska offering plans on the Health Insurance Marketplace.
• Eligibility for premium tax credits and Cost Sharing Reductions (CSRs) to lower out of pocket costs hasn’t changed. Even if the administration stops making CSR payments to insurance companies, consumers will still receive these reductions.

Rock and Enrollments do go together

As I mentioned earlier, there has been a lot of rocking going on in preparation of Open Enrollment. So much rocking took place, that enrolling time is almost here. CACs across the state of Nebraska will rock enrollments in the coming weeks.

Need more proof? Here is proof that rock enrollments go together: Nebraska coalition video.

If you know of anyone that needs health insurance, have them visit healthcare.gov or contact a Nebraska health center today. Help us rock enrollments!

-Keshia Bradford, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Health Center Association of Nebraska

Healthcare has dominated much of the political and public debate in the last twelve months.  Repeal, replace, subsidies, CSRs, who’s in and who’s out of the Marketplace, how many insurers are in a given county.  With the introduction of the Graham-Cassidy bill last week, there is one more attempt to fundamentally change how healthcare is paid for and delivered.  However, there is a critical part of the healthcare debate that is receiving little attention – and time is running out.

 

For over 50 years, Federally Qualified Health Centers, or community health centers, have provided comprehensive, community based, medical, dental and behavioral health care to everyone, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.   During those 50 years, health centers have received strong bipartisan support, and have grown to serve nearly 26 million people nationwide.  Funded through a combination of federal dollars, foundation grants, and patient revenues, health centers are a cost-effective source of care delivery.  Without Congressional action by September 30th, 70% of that federal funding will end, putting health centers and the patients they serve in jeopardy.

 

In Nebraska, our seven health centers served nearly 85,000 patients last year.  Ninety percent of our patients are low income, and one out of every four uninsured individuals in our state receives care at a health center.  In fact, Nebraska has the second highest rate of uninsured patients across all health centers in the nation, with 50% of our patients lacking health insurance.  The very funding that is at risk at the federal level is intended to care for this population and is at the core of the health center mission.  If Congress fails to act, Nebraska health centers will lose $13.2 million dollars.  Most importantly, our patients will lose access to critical services.  Loss of funding will result in reduced hours, staff eliminations, and reduction of services and clinic locations, forcing patients to access more expensive emergency room visits or forego care all together.

 

Health centers are a key component of the health care delivery system in Nebraska.  In some rural areas, we are the only provider accepting new Medicaid patients.  Patients travel hundreds of miles round-trip to visit a health center because they cannot access care anywhere else.  Our dental clinics have three to six month waiting lists because of the need for access to care.  Now is not the time to put funding at risk.

 

With all of the noise surrounding health care, it is critical that the health center funding cliff receive the attention it so desperately needs.  Congress must act before September 30th.  Access to care for the most vulnerable among us is at risk.