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Memorial financial assistance programs live on through MaineHealth Access to Care

April 21, 2022

William Parmelee has lived with diabetes for the past 20 years. For the last five years, he has used insulin to control his condition. When his doctor recently prescribed a new form of the medication, Parmelee was not sure how to afford the medication.

He had Medicare that had covered most of the cost for the previous prescription. However, the cost for this new insulin was beyond what those programs would pay.

PHOTO: l-r Nurse Practitioner Jennifer Golkowski, William Parmelee, Medical Outreach Case Manager Melissa Bartlett, and Prescription Assistance Case Manager Christie Cannell.
Parmelee’s physicians referred him to Christie Cannell, Access to Care’s Prescription Assistance Case Manager with their Med Access Team, here at Memorial. The staff there had previously worked together to help Parmelee and his wife apply for a Medicare savings plan covering Medicare Part B premiums and assisting with some out-of-pocket costs and deductibles. Now, the staff found him a program to fund his insulin based on his age and income.

“I never met anyone so efficient,” said Parmelee, a resident of Sweden, Maine. “Thank God for someone who can help.”

For more than 20 years, MaineHealth’s Access to Care team has worked with patients like William to help find resources to fund health care and prescription drugs, and to identify community services that can assist the patient.

Melissa Bartlett, Medical Outreach Case Manager, who oversees the Coverage Team program at Memorial, says her team’s efforts go a long way to help individuals navigate an often-perplexing system of private and public payers.

“We don’t want people to avoid care because they think they are not covered by insurance or are worried about their ability to pay for care."

"Avoiding care," she adds, "often ends with a trip to the emergency department where costs for care are much higher than a trip to the primary care office."

MaineHealth’s Access to Care program connects our community’s most vulnerable populations to affordable health insurance and free and low cost health care and medications. In 2021, the program helped almost 24,000 individuals in tasks such as finding care resources, submitting Medicaid and Affordable Care Act applications, and receiving prescription medication assistance.

“Access to Care has had a profound impact on the health of our community,” says Memorial President Art Mathisen and reflects our vision of working together so our communities are the healthiest in America.”

Patients who could benefit from Access to Care programs are often identified during an emergency department visit. Primary care providers also frequently refer patients, especially those facing an expensive procedure, medication, or life circumstance such as food insecurity that challenges the patient’s well-being. Other local physicians and health care offices refer patients who need support in locating assistance.

In 2021, Memorial’s Access to Care team helped almost 2,000 people in New Hampshire and Maine through their various programs, worked with more than 225 residents to complete prescription assistance applications totaling $2.5 million, and guided more than 500 people through Medicaid or Affordable Care Act application processes.

Access to Care programs include MedAccess, CarePartners, Coverage Team, Complex Coverage Group, Homeless HealthPartners, and the Patient Assistance Line. These programs connect uninsured and underinsured patients to free and affordable health care, free and discounted medications and access to the necessities of life such as food, transportation, childcare and housing.

At Memorial Hospital, the MaineHealth Access to Care program continues our long-standing local efforts to ensure patients are able to receive the care and services needed to maintain or regain health.

“Our former programs, which were called the patient financial advocate and Medication Bridge, live on in new forms as Memorial partners with its colleagues in the MaineHealth system,” Bartlett says.

“MaineHealth programs have significantly evolved and expanded over 20 years to support individuals across our communities,” said Carol Zechman, MSW, LCSW, the senior director of Access to Care. “However, our focus has remained the same: Identify and address the underlying web of social, physical and financial needs facing many of the individuals navigating our current health system.”

Nurse practitioner Jennifer Golkowski says she frequently sees patients who are nervous about affording their medication. “I have that conversation every day.” Cost of medication, she says, is often on the top of patient’s minds. “If they need financial assistance, I feel confident my patient will be able to get the medications they need.”

Golkowski also credits the knowledge and dedication of the Access to Care Team. Memorial Chief Financial Officer Diana McLaughlin agrees, noting that Bartlett and Cannell “deliver compassionate assistance to those who are uninsured or underinsured, improving the lives of thousands of our friends, neighbors and family members.”

“Because of their work, our communities are a better, healthier place to live.”

For more information, visit mainehealth.org/healthy-communities/access-to-care or call 833-644-3571.

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About Memorial Hospital
Memorial Hospital is a not-for-profit 25-bed Critical Access Hospital located in North Conway, NH, and is a member of the MaineHealth family. Its hospital services include a 24-hour emergency department, surgery center, clinical laboratory, heart health & wellness programs, imaging services, cardiopulmonary care, family birthing center, oncology, chemotherapy and infusion services. Practices include primary care and family medicine, diabetes care, behavioral health, women's health, podiatry, orthopedics and physical therapy. Memorial Hospital is also home to The Merriman House nursing home, which provides senior care services in a comfortable, home-like setting. For more information, www.memorialhospitalnh.org  or call 603-356-5461.

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