Routine health screenings can feel like an easy decision to some, but for someone who is uninsured or underinsured and falls outside of the qualifications for Medicaid, it can feel like a burdensome expense.
One such patient connected with Melissa Bartlett, Memorial Hospital’s Access to Care Lead Medical Outreach Case Manager, and discovered she qualified to receive a free mammogram and cervical screening through the Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (BCCP).
“She ended up having a positive finding on her mammogram,” said Bartlett. From there, Bartlett got her set up with the Medicaid Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program.
There are a variety of programs to support people who meet certain income and health qualifications, but it is challenging for patients to navigate on their own. MaineHealth’s Access to Care case managers are trained to work with patients and their families to match them with opportunities that make accessing healthcare more affordable and manageable.
The Access to Care team at Memorial Hospital has been busy and is working to expand their capacity. The number of patients who need additional support to get the medical care they need is growing. To reach everyone, the Access to Care team has added a new member to the team and is training Memorial providers to help identify patients who might be falling through the cracks. “So many patients are falling off Medicaid right now,” explained Bartlett.
According to the Medicaid.gov website, states were required to keep Medicaid enrollees on Medicaid during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. The Medicaid continuous enrollment rule ended on March 31, 2023, as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act. Many individuals who were able to stay on Medicaid for the past three years were pulled off the program.
“Some people may not know they aren’t covered until they see a doctor,” said Bartlett. “We had one patient who thought he had reenrolled in Medicaid, and it hadn't gone through. He was alarmed to find out when he was hospitalized that he was no longer covered.” Bartlett worked with the patient to enroll him in a plan on the Healthcare Marketplace.
To meet these growing needs, Paula Rowe was hired as an Access to Care Case Manager at Memorial this summer to work specifically with patients who have BCCP referrals.
“This role is meaningful for me personally,” said Rowe. “I have family members with cancer. I feel strongly that screening early has the potential to prolong your life for decades. It can be scary to get tested and screened. We want people to get the help they need, so in my role I’m trying to remove as many barriers as possible.”
As part of their efforts to increase access to the BCCP program, the Access to Care team is training providers about the program to get more referrals. “Referrals have doubled since doing training in Women’s Health,” said Bartlett. Primary Care providers recently completed the training and are eager to refer those patients who may qualify for this program to meet with the Access to Care team. BCCP requires that patients are between the ages of 21 and 64, have a household income less than 250% of the poverty level, and are either uninsured or underinsured.
Memorial Hospital’s Access to Care team is available to work with patients and their families to navigate the many programs they may qualify for. The team is growing and can help more patients gain access to healthcare that is affordable and manageable. Both Rowe and Bartlett are Certified Application Counselors in New Hampshire and Maine to assist with Healthcare Marketplace enrollment. Open Enrollment for the Healthcare Marketplace runs November 1, 2023– January 15, 2024.
As for the patient whose mammogram caught her cancer early, “She received all her treatments here at Memorial and in Portland, covered under her new Medicaid plan. She is now cancer free!” Bartlett reported that the patient still qualifies for coverage, and she receives follow up care every six months.
To meet with someone on the Access to Care team, call the hospital at 603-356-5461 and ask to speak with Access to Care.
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.