April 27, 2007 - Newport News, VA - During national Cover the Insured Week, Access Partnership announces plans to expand an existing program offering free or reduced advanced medical care to the uninsured of Norfolk in the fall. In 2008, the program is also expected to expand to Virginia Beach’s uninsured.
Launched as a federally funded pilot program in early 2006, the Community Access to Care project provides coordinated care for 519 Peninsula Institute for Community Health (PICH) patients to demonstrate the effectiveness of comprehensive care for people with chronic diseases. Recently renewed, the program continues to provide care for Peninsula participants.
Since the project’s inception, hundreds of patients like 63-year-old Newport News resident Veronica Owen have received a total of $460,550 in free or reduced medical care at Sentara CarePlex Hospital and Sentara Port Warwick by presenting their special identification cards at the hospital.
“I have no income so I wouldn’t have had an x-ray for my back, or the upcoming bone scan in May,” says Owen, who has been a PICH patient for five years.
“I don’t leave this trailer from one week to the next because of the pain. I would work, but I can’t even stand at the sink for long without having to sit down,” says Owen who believes her condition will be confirmed as degenerative spine disease.
With cards in hand, PICH patients have had access to follow-up care, diagnostic testing, and treatment prescribed by their PICH primary care physicians to manage their chronic conditions. With the pre-negotiated reduced rates, patients understand any visit will only cost them a $25-$45 copay, something they’ve never had before.
Since the project launched in January 2006, Access Partnership, Sentara, Optima Health, and hospital-based physician groups have partnered to provide free or reduced advanced diagnostic imaging, testing, and inpatient services to Newport News underinsured at Sentara CarePlex Hospital and Sentara Port Warwick.
Access Partnership contracted with physicians to accept free or reduced rates for pathology, radiology, and anesthesia services with hospital-based services and admissions provided free by Sentara Peninsula facilities to eligible patients.
Goal of the Project
The goal of this project is to better manage chronic care through improved access to diagnostics and treatment thereby reducing unnecessary hospital emergency room visits and avoidable inpatient admissions. The program is striving to better coordinate care for the uninsured, improve their overall health status and reduce health care costs.
During the first plan year, Optima Health provided approximately $30,000 of in-kind services to develop a tracking tool for the charitable care that will help demonstrate the effectiveness of the program for improving health. Free Sentara hospital based services provided to program participants in its first year totaled $444,294.
Eligibility for the Newport News based program includes being enrolled with PICH for primary care services, diagnosed with at least one chronic disease including asthma, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and hyperlipidemia, at or below 200% of federal poverty guidelines, and without health insurance. New patients accepted into the expanded program will be patients of either Park Place Medical Center or Sentara Ambulatory Care Center meeting similar requirements.
Expansion Planned for Fall 2007
In fall 2007, an additional 500 current community clinic patients from Park Place and Sentara Ambulatory Care Center are expected to be accepted into the expanded program that will offer reduced or free advanced medical care—from diagnostics, pathology, and anesthesia to surgery inpatient services—from Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.