Grantee Update: Consumer's for Affordable Health Care
Consumers for Affordable Health Care (CAHC) plays a unique, critical role in Maine—100% of their efforts are focused on ensuring that all Mainers have access to quality, affordable healthcare. CAHC uses a two-pronged approach where they help individuals and families navigate complicated systems to get the care and coverage they need while working to improve health care policy in Maine. The Sam L. Cohen Foundation has recognized the importance of CAHC’s efforts with several grants, and most recently awarded a $20,000 grant for their Consumer Assistance Program.
CAHC has become Maine’s expert on an increasingly complicated health care system, and their expertise in public policy is in high demand as the new Governor and Maine legislators look to improve access to health care. Since the Cohen Foundation grant in 2018, CAHC was instrumental in passing LD1, An Act To Protect Health Care Coverage for Maine Families, which codifies important consumer protections of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including protections for pre-existing conditions and Essential Health Benefit requirements. LD1 also strengthens nondiscrimination provisions that prohibit carriers from denying coverage based on sexual orientation. Going forward, CAHC’s public policy goals include efforts to expand adult Medicaid benefits to include oral health and legislation to set payment thresholds and transparency for prescription drug costs. CAHC worked closely with their advocacy partners on the voter-approved Medicaid expansion. As anticipated, the need for CAHC’s Consumer Assistance Programs has increased significantly in the brief period since the Governor approved the expansion.
Mainers rely on CAHC’s HelpLine to navigate enrollment in ACA Marketplace plans, Medicaid, and private insurance plans, and to make sure that they are not at risk of losing coverage. In 2018, CAHC answered more than 6,500 calls, with more than 1,000 of those calls from ACA Navigators and health or other insurance professionals. The fact that professionals reached out for HelpLine assistance more than 1,000 times is evidence of the complex health care system in Maine. To that end, CAHC offers trainings for healthcare professionals, caseworkers, and other social service agency staff on Medicaid and ACA eligibility and enrollment. Most recently, Southern Maine Medical Center in Biddeford hosted a CAHC training, and York County Community Action Program has a training scheduled during the SLCF grant period. Through a new partnership, CAHC is training and supporting case workers and probation officers to ensure that eligible individuals have insurance coverage for their court-ordered treatment programs. Through their Consumer Assistance Program, CAHC provides free help getting medical bills paid and filing complaints and appeals with insurance companies. Since the start of that program, CAHC has recovered nearly $700,000 in denied medical claims for Maine people.
Secured funding for programs such as the SLCF grant for the CAHC’s Consumer Assistance Program allow CAHC to respond quickly as need arises. When British credit-card processing company Barclaycard announced in January that its Wilton, Maine call center will close at the end of March, CAHC worked with local nonprofits to help the 227 individuals who will be laid off understand how to sustain health care coverage. The state plans to open a temporary call center at the Wilton Career Center to assist with the state’s Medicaid expansion, and CAHC will continue to provide expertise and support to employees at the temporary call center. The $20,000 Sam L. Cohen Foundation grant made in spring 2018 for program support provides a springboard for CAHC to launch additional rapid response initiatives as the new administration shapes Maine’s healthcare policy.
2019 Sam L. Cohen Pioneer Scholars
The Pioneer Scholar Program, a partnership between supporters and the Mitchell Institute, provides the opportunity to recognize specific Mitchell Scholars and Alumni who, through their contributions to school and community and their demonstration of certain qualities – as students and as citizens – stand out for acknowledgement.
Robert Sheils - Portland High School * Bates College
Addison Moore - Biddeford High School * Wheaton College
Zainab Jabor - Thornton Academy * University of New England
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