Memorial financial assistance programs live on through MaineHealth Access to Care
William Parmelee has been living with diabetes for 20 years. For the past five years he has used insulin to control his condition. When his doctor recently prescribed a new form of the drug, Parmelee wasn’t sure how to afford the drug.
He had Medicare, which covered most of the cost of the previous prescription. However, the cost of this new insulin exceeded what these programs would pay.
Parmelee’s doctors referred him to him Christie Canell, Access to Care’s Prescription Assistance Case Manager with her Med Access Team, here at Memorial. Staff there had previously worked together to help Parmelee and his wife apply for a Medicare savings plan, which covers Medicare Part B premiums and helps with some out-of-pocket expenses and deductibles. Now the staff found a program for him to fund his insulin based on his age and income.
“I have never met anyone who is so efficient” said Parmelee, a resident of Sweden, Maine. “Thank God there’s someone who can help.”
For more than 20 years, MaineHealth’s Access to Care team has worked with patients like William to help locate health care financing and prescription drug resources and to identify community services that can help the patient.
Melissa BartlettMedical Outreach Case Manager, who oversees the Coverage Team program at Memorial, says her team’s efforts go a long way in helping individuals navigate an often confusing system of private and public payers.
“We don’t want people avoiding care because they think they don’t have insurance or are concerned about their ability to pay for care.”
“Avoiding care,” she adds, “often ends with a visit to the emergency room, where the cost of care is much higher than a visit to the family doctor’s office.”
MaineHealth’s Access to Care program connects our community’s most vulnerable populations with affordable health insurance and free, low-cost health care and medication. In 2021, the program helped nearly 24,000 individuals with tasks such as locating care resources, filing applications for Medicaid and Affordable Care Acts, and obtaining prescription drug assistance.
“Access to Care has had a profound impact on the health of our community,” he says Memorial President Art Mathisen and reflects our vision to work together so our communities are the healthiest in America.”
Patients who might benefit from Access to Care programs are often identified during an emergency room visit. GPs also frequently refer patients, particularly those facing an expensive procedure, medication, or living conditions such as food insecurity that put the patient’s well-being at risk. Other local doctors and health departments refer patients who need assistance finding help.
In 2021, Memorial’s Access to Care team served nearly 2,000 people in New Hampshire and Maine with their various programs, working with more than 225 residents to complete applications for prescription assistance totaling $2.5 million , and guided more than 500 people through the Medicaid or Affordable Care Act application processes.
Access to care programs includes MedAccess, CarePartners, Coverage Team, Complex Coverage Group, Homeless HealthPartnersand the patient hotline. These programs provide uninsured and underinsured patients with free and affordable health care, free and discounted medicines, and access to basic necessities such as food, transportation, childcare, and housing.
At Memorial Hospital, the MaineHealth Access to Care program continues our long-standing local effort to ensure patients receive the care and services needed to maintain or regain health.
“Our previous programs, called the Patient Financial Advocate and Medication Bridge, live on in new forms as Memorial Partners with their counterparts in the MaineHealth system.” says Bartlett.
“MaineHealth programs have evolved and expanded significantly over the course of 20 years to support individuals in our communities,” he said Carol Zechman, MSW, LCSWthe executive director of Access to Care. “However, our focus has remained the same: to identify and address the underlying web of social, physical, and financial needs faced by many of the people in our current healthcare system.”
nurse Jennifer Golkowski says she often sees patients who are nervous about having to afford their medication. “I have this conversation every day.” The cost of medication, she says, is often at the top of patients’ minds. “If they need financial support, I am confident that my patient will get the medication they need.”
Golkowski also recognizes the knowledge and dedication of the Access to Care team. monument CFO Diana McLaughlin agrees, noting that Bartlett and Cannell “provide compassionate care to the uninsured or underinsured, improving the lives of thousands of our friends, neighbors and family members.”
“Because of their work, our communities are a better, healthier place to live.”
For more information, visit mainehealth.org/healthy-communities/access-to-care or call 833-644-3571.
About Memorial Hospital
Memorial Hospital is a not-for-profit, 25-bed critical access hospital located in North Conway, NH and is a member of the MaineHealth family. Hospital services include a 24-hour emergency room, surgery center, clinical laboratory, cardiac health and wellness programs, imaging services, cardiopulmonary care, family birth center, oncology, chemotherapy and infusion services. Practices include primary care and family medicine, diabetes care, behavioral health, women’s health, podiatry, orthopedics and physical therapy. Memorial Hospital is also home to The Merriman House nursing home, which provides elderly care services in a comfortable, home-like environment. For more information, visit www.memorialhospitalnh.org or call 603-356-5461.