Personal contact has been a cornerstone outreach strategy of the Community Health Center movement since it began in the 1960s. Health Centers provide health services, information, and health insurance enrollment assistance to the communities they serve in safe and familiar environments such as Health Center medical, dental and behavioral health offices, schools, neighborhood stores, fields where seasonal migrants are working, and places where homeless individuals might gather.
It is important for all Missourians to know that high-quality, community-based, culturally sensitive, and affordable primary and preventive health care services are available at a Community Health Center near them. Health Center Outreach and Enrollment (O&E) staff play a large role in raising community awareness through outreach activities ranging from participation in school health fairs, to presentations for community organizations, to one-on-one conversations with neighbors who need information and assistance about their health and health care, to health insurance application and enrollment assistance.
MPCA’s role in Outreach and Enrollment
Through leadership, training, technical assistance and consultation, MPCA assists Health Center staff with their outreach and enrollment efforts. More specifically, MPCA supports its member Health Centers in their outreach efforts by:
Helping Community Health Center O&E staff remain current and excited about their outreach work
Hosting the Outreach and Enrollment Network, staffed by Lane Jacobs.
Facilitating communication and information sharing through a listserv, conference calls, site visits, and meetings.
Ensuring Health Center O&E staff have the knowledge and tools needed to explain health insurance options to their patients and their community.
Maintaining relationships and partnerships with state and national organizations to provide additional O&E support to Health Centers when needed. MPCA staff maintains membership/leadership roles in Missouri task forces, advisory and work groups related to O&E, Medicaid, rural health, and health equity.
Outreach and Enrollment Network
MPCA maintains an O&E staff listserv for sharing best practices, webinar and conference training announcements, and state and national policy updates. They develop and host regular meetings at MPCA for O&E staff. These meetings include presentations by subject matter experts and promote peer-to-peer learning and interaction.
Special Populations, Health Literacy & Cultural Awareness/Sensitivity
MPCA provides learning opportunities for its members through face-to face meetings, as well as webinars and conference calls for topics related to special populations, health literacy and cultural awareness/sensitivity. All of these issues can affect patient/provider communication and access to health services, and can result in health disparities and inequities. MPCA also assists with revising documents and materials for easier reading by all patients.
MPCA’s HRSA-designated contact for “Special Populations” is charged with maintaining a basic understanding of the groups outlined in federal statute for Health Centers. These include the elderly, homeless, farmworkers, and public housing residents. Emerging special populations include veterans, patients who are limited-English proficient (LEP), and LGBT people. MPCA facilitates training and technical assistance on special populations for Missouri Health Centers.
Health Insurance Application Assistance and Education
For many years O&E staff have assisted patients with Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) applications, as well as other state, federal, and community programs. Since 2014 O&E staff across Missouri and the U.S have expanded their services to include the Health Insurance Marketplace. They play a critical role in identifying and assisting eligible-but-uninsured patients and consumers who might be eligible for this new coverage made possible through the Affordable Care Act. All Health Center staff assisting with Marketplace applications are Certified Application Counselors (CAC) and have completed federal training and been certified to assist consumers.
In addition to application and enrollment assistance, O&E staff are charged with providing education to newly-covered consumers to help them understand and properly use their health insurance. This is no small task since many of these consumers never had health insurance before Marketplace coverage became available.
Women and Minority Outreach Program
MPCA manages this program that has been funded by the MO General Assembly since 2000. The funding is intended to help reduce health disparities through increased utilization of preventive screenings/services and through enrolling eligible patients in Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance (CHIP) coverage.