OLYMPIA – The Health Care Authority (HCA), in partnership with community organizations across Washington, is providing community-based enrollment specialists to help people enroll in Washington Apple Health, the state’s Medicaid program.
Since its launch in October 2013, more than 750,000 people have enrolled in or renewed their Apple Health coverage through the online web portal at WaHealthplanfinder.org.
The community-based staff operate out of local hospitals, clinics, health departments and community outreach centers — all sites that will be accessible to help people in that community. They also will partner with local health care providers, community groups and advocates.
So far, 38 community-based specialists have been stationed across the state. The HCA hopes to have 30 more in place by the end of April, with at least one in every county.
“We’re very excited to have the opportunity to partner with community organizations to serve Apple Health clients this way,” said Manning Pellanda, director of Eligibility Policy and Service Delivery at the Health Care Authority. “We’ve never had a physical presence outside of Olympia before. We’re really proud of the work our staff is doing as the face of the Health Care Authority.”
Pellanda explained that having staff placed around the state creates added value for Washington. It means Apple Health clients and applicants will have a real person to talk to who can answer their questions about enrollment, and the community-based specialists can put them in touch with the right person at Health Care Authority headquarters who can help them with other problems.
Pellanda noted that having someone located in a community helps the agency learn more about the particular needs of the community so it can respond better.
The specialists can’t enter data on applications for individuals, but they can answer questions about eligibility and how to apply online. They can look up the status of a locked application and explain how applicants can fix it. They can also tell why an application was locked or denied, as well as helping current clients verify their Apple Health eligibility in annual reviews. Pellanda reports the feedback so far has been very positive.
“We are extremely grateful to the Legislature for providing us with these resources needed to create the outcomes we want to see for our consumers since implementation of the Affordable Care Act,” he said.
A growing list of this team of community-based specialists, with their locations and contact information, is available at: www.hca.wa.gov/hcr/me/Documents/HCA_Community_Based_Staff_Contact_List_031414.pdf.