Development and Implementation Grant
Requirements
                            Phase Two National Press Release

HEALTHforAll of WNY, INC.
Buffalo, NY

  

 

        Objectives

Mission for HealthforAll:  To expand access to quality healthcare for the uninsured through community partnerships.

HealthforAll was established in 1999 to address the growing concerns for the uninsured in Western New York by connecting corporations, small businesses, providers, insurers, community agencies and individuals to deal directly with the issue.  HealthforAll has created a strong foundation for providing realistic options for the uninsured.  Building on these solutions and continuing to implement new ones, HealthforAll's vision is a viable answer for each of the over 200,000 uninsured in the region.

The myriad of programs, services, and health insurance options available for the un/underinsured is impressive yet are many times inaccessible or unknown.  HealthforAll is advancing the Western New York Community towards eliminating barriers that prevent uninsured and underinsured people from making the most of what is available and filling gaps where they exist.

Enduring success demands continued, productive relationships among every facet of the community, business, consumers, government, healthcare, non-profit, and community-based organizations.  To maintain and expand solutions implemented in conjunction with these key partners, HealthforAll requires ongoing community support to maintain HealthforAll New York Subsidy Program WNY Helpnet.org (helpnet) and Voice of the Uninsured.

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        Program Design  

HealthforAll Healthy NY Insurance Subsidy Program (Subsidy Program)

In Western New York, over 90% of small businesses with 10 or fewer employees do not offer health insurance.  Healthy New York is the New York State sponsored insurance program designed to make reduced cost, comprehensive health insurance available to small businesses that currently do not provide coverage to their employees and is offered in Western New York Community Blue Independent Health and Univera Healthcare.

HealthforAll's Subsidy Program pays up to one-third of the Healthy NY premium, leveraging at least two additional dollars in premium from the employer to employee.  To qualify for the Subsidy Program businesses must:

  • Qualify for Healthy NY including not offering or contributing to employee coverage for at least the past twelve months

  • Be located in one of the eight Western New York counties - Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming

  • Have at least two and no more than ten employees eligible for Healthy NY.

Initially using grant funding, HealthforAll guarantees premium support for twelve months to Western New York small businesses enrolling their employees in Healthy NY.  The children of these employees are directed to Child Health Plus to maximize use of subsidy dollars.  The program will result in over 2,500 newly insured Western New York residents based on currently available funding and will promote enrollment into Child Health Plus when possible.  Capacity is limited only by the availability of supporting funds.

Information and Referral

WNYhelpnet.ORG (helpnet) makes electronically accessible a comprehensive online database of 6,000+ existing Western New York services and programs available to the underserved of every county.  Expert call center staff further assists uninsured individuals and small businesses navigate the myriad of available options to find health coverage solutions tailored to their specific needs.

Voice of the Uninsured

HealthforAll compiles data and other significant information about the uninsured as the foundation for informing community leaders, catalyzing change and advocating solutions for the uninsured in a impartial manner.

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        Financing & Outreach Strategies

To sustain the organizations efforts financially, HealthforAll's business plan requires ongoing contributions from every member of the community.  Implicit in this requirement is understanding that the uninsured impact every aspect of the community and no member of the community can be exempt from contributing 

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        Accomplishments to Date

HealthforAll combines its planned demonstration project, now known as the Subsidy Program, with the opportunity afforded by Healthy New York.  In partnership with the local HMOs offering Healthy New York, HealthforAll developed a program of premium subsidy for Western New York small businesses with between two and ten employees.  In addition to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant, initial operational funding also came from the John R Oishei and Gebbie Foundations and a portion of the CAP grant described below.  The Subsidy Program began in March 2003.

In March 2001, HealthforAll applied for and received a federal Health Resource and Service Administration (HRSA) Community Access Program (CAP) Grant, which was renewed for a second year in September 2002.  The grant allowed the development and rollout of www.helpnet.org and supported some infrastructure development for the Subsidy Program.  Helpnet is the first comprehensive, region wide on-line directory of Western New York Health and Human Services including provider-based free and sliding fee scale services and low cost health insurance programs.  Beginning in September 2002, HealthforAll launched a regional education campaign with the goal of increasing professional use of the helpnet as a singular tool to reduce barriers to care for the uninsured and underinsured in Western New York.

Committed to developing a database on the uninsured and the community impact of uninsured issues, HealthforAll will repeat in 2003 the survey of Western New York insured and uninsured populations that was initially done in 1999.  Together with information from the Subsidy Program, helpnet user information and focus groups of the uninsured, the periodic Western New York survey will provide the valuable information on the health status of the uninsured and help develop and refine strategies to address this population.  HealthforAll plans to regularly communicate this data to businesses, government and the public to keep them apprised of the issues faced by the uninsured and the impact on the community.  HealthforAll has established itself as the singular organization in Western New York addressing the issue of the uninsured in eight counties.

Challenges

Internal

Staffing:  Several individuals hired as permanent HealthforAll staff did not successfully complete their probationary periods.  This was despite the expert assistance from Medimetrix, Board Members and other consultants in formulating a personnel plan, creating job descriptions and interviewing candidates.  After reviewing the situation these two individuals did not have some of the skills and abilities that appear to be critical factors in the success of other staff and the skills/abilities to work independtly  with minimal structure and supervision, a willingness to adapt and alter strategies as the environment changes, and the experience to recognize that a new organization with few employees requires constant flexibility and an entrepreneurial spirit.  In the future, these qualities will be sought after more aggressively when staff is recruited.

Recruiting for positions more than once diverted resources to a smaller degree.  Cultivating corporate partnerships was delayed for several months due to the loss of the initial Marketing and Development Manager.  Grantees in similar situations should carefully consider skills and abilities mentioned above when forming a team for a new organization.  The National Program Office (Medimetrix) has been invaluable in helping with a personnel plan and job descriptions.

Board of Directors:  In May 2001, HealthforAll held a day long retreat to address the roles and responsibilities of Board Members.  Feedback from the Directors indicated this was an extremely useful experience and met the objectives of clearly defining the Board's functions as a governing body.  An analysis of the attributes of Board Directors revealed gaps in terms of the various types of community representation and influence needed to move the program forward.  A letter from Terry Stoller of the National Program Office to the Board President provided expert guidance and prompted the Board to recruit and appoint new members to include prominent local business leaders.  These new Board Members have been invaluable in meeting the objectives by the Board assessment and reinforced by the National Program Office.

September 11, 2001:  New York's fiscal crisis dramatically changed the government's priority of addressing the working uninsured problem.  Additionally, the state did not pass a 2001 budget until October 24, 2001 leaving a number of questions unanswered regarding the availability of HRSA funds for Healthy WNY premium subsidization startups.  Locally, WNY continues to confront potential bankruptcy of its major metropolitan center, the City of Buffalo, and the likelihood of entering receivership under the State.  The extensive WNY healthcare system, already severely stressed before September 11th continues to experience an exodus of physicians, oversupply of hospital beds, and a shortage of allied health professionals.

Low Enrollment in Healthy New York:  HealthforAll continues to leverage the lack of success experienced by Healthy New York in its first year of operation as an opportunity to become the State's demonstration project for refinement and improvements.  At the end of 2001, there was a clear resurgence of interest in HealthforAll and discussions after 9/11 regarding HealthforAll's role in making Healthy New York work.

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        Contact Us

Kathleen M. Leonard
Interim Executive Director
Health For All of WNY, Inc.
2495 Main Street, Suite 310
Buffalo, NY 14215
Phone: (716) 837-8400 ext 104
Fax: (716) 837-8300          
E-mail:  kleonard@healthforall.org

Website:  www.healthforall.org

 



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