January 21, 2013

Cuyahoga Health Access Partnership's efforts improve access to uninsured

The Sisters of Charity Health System is one of many institutional partners behind the Cuyahoga Health Access Partnership (CHAP), which was recently featured in The Plain Dealer. The story includes comments from Robin Bachman, chair of the CHAP board and assistant vice president of government affairs and public policy at the Sisters of Charity Health System. Read more.


Cuyahoga Health Access Partnership's efforts to improve access to uninsured: Whatever happened to ...?

By Sarah Jane Tribble, The Plain Dealer
on January 20, 2013 at 1:00 PM, updated January 20, 2013 at 1:03 PM

"Whatever happened to . . .?" is a weekly series updating some of the most newsworthy and interesting local stories covered in The Plain Dealer. Have a suggestion on a story we should update? Send it to John C. Kuehner.

Today, we answer this question: Whatever happened to the Cuyahoga Health Access Partnership's efforts to improve access to the uninsured?

More than 900 uninsured adults are enrolled in the program, which provides free health care to Cuyahoga County residents between the ages of 19 and 64.

The program, called CHAP for short, helps residents find a doctor close to where they live and organizes specialty care appointments, if needed.

It began enrolling residents into an electronic system in April and is on track to have more than 2,000 members by April 2013. Eventually, the program could have 10,000 enrollees, said Sarah Hackenbracht, executive director of CHAP.

"We are giving them donated or free services," she said. "When someone goes in for a specialty referral such as a cardiology appointment those are all being donated in kind."

More than 15 providers across the region are participating in the program, including all of the major hospital systems as well as free clinics. Members have paid for an electronic system to track patients and participate in providing free care.

"The patients who are receiving these services are definitely appreciative," said Francis Afram-Gyening, chief executive officer of CareAlliance.

Each person enrolled in CHAP receives a card and a letter that allows them to access primary care and specialty care for free. Without the card, those patients would have to re-apply for financial assistance each time they go to the hospital by showing identification, proof of residence, and other paperwork.

"Can you imagine every time you show up at an appointment having to bring in all of that collateral material just to show you are eligible?" asked Sandra Byrd Chappelle, a CHAP board member and senior program officer with the St. Luke's Foundation.

Robin Bachman, chair of the CHAP board, said the program's enrollment software can ensure people get better care and not resort to showing up in an emergency department when the situation is severe.

"We are trying to encourage the person to actually feel like they have a medical home," she said, "they are getting better care because it's an appropriate setting."

Bachman is also assistant vice president of government affairs and public policy at Sisters of Charity Health System.

Residents who earn less than 200 percent of the poverty level -- which is $22,340 a year for a single person, $30,260 for two people and $46,100 for a family of four -- or less qualify for CHAP. Hackenbracht estimates that 147,000 Cuyahoga County residents currently qualify.

To schedule an appointment or see if you qualify, call CHAP at 1-888-929-CHAP (2427).

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From its Cleveland headquarters, the Sisters of Charity Health System provides oversight, leadership and strategic direction to more than 20 organizations responding to community needs in Canton and Cleveland, Ohio, and South Carolina.

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