While Indiana government debates whether to participate in the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid, Reid Hospital and Reid Physician Associate practices are already seeing more Medicaid patients – at least partly because of longtime efforts of Reid’s “Patient Advocate” program.
“Long before health care reform was implemented, Reid has dedicated resources to help patients and families in our area who in many cases have lost health care coverage because of the regional economy,” said Craig Kinyon, Reid president/CEO. “Some of these outreaches have been in place almost 20 years,” he said.
Reid, Reid Physician Associates (RPA) medical practices and other institutions like the Wayne County Health Department have served patients covered by Medicaid for many years, Kinyon said. He said the numbers have increased because of a continued economic downturn that has left many families dealing with layoffs and loss of company health benefits, putting them in lower income categories that make them eligible for programs such as Medicaid.
Often, however, families are not aware of these options, which is why Kinyon said Reid has dedicated resources to help for so many years. Efforts were ramped up in the past decade as the regional economy has continued to suffer, he said. “People still need us, whether they have insurance, minimal coverage or no coverage,” Kinyon said. “Our hospital, and satellite resources such as the seven-day, after-hours Reid Urgent Care Center, have continued to serve Medicaid and all patients, regardless of their financial situation. It’s our mission.”
In 2012, Reid and RPA served 26,433 Medicaid patients, which generated multiple primary and specialty care physician visits, urgent care visits, inpatient admissions, outpatient care for lab, radiology and therapy, as well as 24-7 year-round emergency care. This growing population now represents 11% of Reid’s annual patient volume.
Many times after a loss of income, families are able to meet requirements for Medicaid or other forms of assistance. Kinyon said Reid Patient Advocates and ClaimAid consulting, which provides comprehensive services to help patients in the process to qualify for assistance programs, have proactively worked with area patients and families to connect them to Medicaid, the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP), Reid patient assistance or other programs.
“We are proactive, because it helps the families and it helps lower the overall costs of health care,” Kinyon said. The effort has resulted in almost 14,000 people being qualified for Medicaid, HIP or Reid patient assistance in the past three years, for example, he said.
ClaimAid representatives and Reid Patient Advocates have also taken their services on the road, participating in health fairs and events to inform and begin the signup process. “This prepares individuals and families before they need us, and greatly lowers the stress that can come with a health care crisis. When you are coping with a medical problem, worrying about paying for care can greatly increase the stress on the patient.”
Indiana Legislature Considers Expansion
The Medicaid expansion in Indiana is being debated in the Indiana legislature, on the heels of a study released by the Indiana Hospital Association that suggests joining the program with the Affordable Care Act would generate up to $3.4 billion in new economic activity, generate at least $108 million in state and local tax revenue each year and support more than 30,000 jobs through 2020.
IHA President Doug Leonard said the report by the University of Nebraska Center for Health Policy demonstrates the positive impact for Indiana if it participates in the Medicaid expansion.
Governor Mike Pence has not committed to the expansion, citing other studies that show it would ultimately cost the state. His administration has estimated the full expansion would cost the state about $2 billion over seven years. The IHA study counters that the cost would be less and the federal dollars would have other benefits to the state as the federal money comes in.
Kinyon said it’s clear that Reid was working with patients and families long before Congress tackled and approved a national health care program. “We don’t yet know all the impact, positive or negative, of reform and things like the proposed Medicaid expansion. We do know that we will continue to serve the people in our communities as they continue to weather this sustained economic challenge.”
Reid’s outreach efforts include:
Contracting with ClaimAid, experts in helping people with the process of qualifying for assistance programs such as Medicaid or the Healthy Indiana Plan, for almost 20 years.
Since 2007, patient advocates or ClaimAid representatives have been available in the Reid emergency department to help get people into the signup process before they are through with care and receiving bills. This helps patients know up front how future bills for their care will be handled, rather than having to face payment challenges after the health care crisis is over.
Patient advocates have been available to help find coverage or assistance at 1501 Chester Boulevard since 2008, not only working with patients who already received bills but working with people before they have a medical need.
For more information about Reid’s advocacy program, call: (765) 983-3186.