Four New York State Health Centers Announce Partnership to Increase Access to Health Care for Children

September 14, 2011 – Four New York State health centers today announced a new, federally‐funded project to enroll more eligible children in public health insurance. In an effort to ensure a healthy childhood for all New York State children, the project partners – Hudson River HealthCare, the Institute for Family Health, Open Door Family Medical Centers and Adirondack Health Institute – will couple their extensive community outreach experience with an innovative software tool developed by the Hudson Center for Health Equity. The largescale initiative, expected to assist over 70,000 families in 17 counties in the Hudson Valley, the Adirondacks and New York City, will be financed by a $2.47 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“By using technology to streamline and automate the enrollment and renewal process, we expect that more kids will stay in care, and get the preventive services and check‐ups they need,” said Jim Sinkoff, executive director of Hudson Information Technology for Community Health (HITCH), a care management collaboration representing Hudson River HealthCare, the Institute and Open Door. “All of the health centers collaborating on this project have tremendous expertise in using electronic health records and other health information technology to improve health care. We’re now leveraging that strength to make it easier for kids to get and maintain insurance, and stay in care.”

In New York State, it is estimated that over 164,000 children are eligible for public insurance but not enrolled. In addition to the complex and lengthy application as a contributing barrier to enrollment, lower enrollment rates are seen among adolescents; citizen children with no parents who are citizens, or no English speaking parent; and children living in homes without phones. Additionally, 30% – 40% of children enrolled in public insurance lose coverage within one year because of the lengthy renewal process. By creatively combining community outreach and technology, the partners intend to address these challenges by making it easier for caregivers to enroll and renew their children’s insurance with help from health center workers using the latest insurance enrollment technology, both on‐site at health centers and in other community settings, such as schools.

In an August 18 press release announcing the grant awards, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, “Today’s grants will help us identify and enroll children in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, ensuring that more children have the health care they need. Keeping Americans healthy from a young age is the right thing to do, and it saves money by avoiding preventable diseases and conditions as they get older.”

Additional support for the project will come from the state primary care association of health centers, CHCANYS and Hudson Health Plan, a Medicaid managed care plan.

Hudson Information Technology for Community Health (HITCH) is a care coordination and management collaborative formed to improve health outcomes in low‐income populations, and comprises three (3) FQHCs: Hudson River HealthCare, The Institute for Family Health, and Open Door Family Medical Centers. HITCH will be joined by The Adirondack Health Institute, (a consortium of primary care providers); the Hudson Center for Health Equity and Quality (a nonprofit organization focused on enrollment and quality in New York State), the State primary care association of health centers (CHCANYS) and a Medicaid Managed Care Organization (Hudson Health Plan). The project partners share a common vision of affordable, accessible health care for all New York State residents.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Adirondack Health Institute
Vicky Wheaton‐Saraceni
(518) 761‐0300 Ext. 31377

Hudson River HealthCare
Dorothy L. DeBiase
(914) 734‐8736

Institute for Family Health
Kate Fahy
(212) 633‐0800 Ext. 1309

Open Door Family Medical Centers
Marcia Clark
(845) 528‐6647