Partnerships are critical to achieving the goals of the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA) to increase enrollment into the Medicare low-income subsidies. Here the Nevada Aging and Disability Service Division describes how it re-conceptualized partnerships to better engage community agencies and boost MIPPA outreach.

Background on ADSD

The mission of the Nevada Aging and Disability Service Division (ADSD) is to ensure the provision of effective supports and services to meet the needs of individuals and families, helping them lead independent, meaningful and dignified lives.

ADSD’s MIPPA Team is lead through the MIPPA program’s three Priority Areas. For Priority Area 2, State Units on Aging, Nevada’s goal is to expand its program’s reach, using the MIPPA Coordinator and a group of 19 volunteers using a strategy to increase community awareness and enrollment into Medicare’s “Extra Help” program.

It was decided that there had to be another way to reach community members besides health fairs and presentations…

As MIPPA volunteers analyzed the results of present outreach activities, it was decided that there had to be another way to reach community members besides health fairs and presentations. There were several agency partners in name only and without actual involvement with the “Extra Help” program.  The decision was made to more fully develop the partner program as described here.

The Agency Partner Program

The agency contacted both public and private agencies, businesses, and organizations and asked them to partner with ADSD to help low-income Medicare beneficiaries obtain assistance with prescription drug costs.

The agency developed two types of MIPPA community partner opportunities: the Agency Champion Partners (ACP) and the Agency Outreach Partners (AOP).     

The Agency Champion Partner (ACP) would have one or more employees trained on how to identify which of their clients may be eligible for “Extra Help” and how to complete the applications for clients.  The initial training time is typically 3 hours and includes viewing the application on BenefitsCheckUp.org.  After explaining the “Extra Help” program and/or completing an application, the ACP faxes a HIPAA- compliant Client Contact Form to the local MIPPA Community Development Specialist/MIPPA Coordinator who enters the information into the national STARs database.

The Agency Outreach Partner (AOP) on the other hand, only requires that front office staff or a client contact person be familiar with “Extra Help” and be willing to share information, i.e., an “Extra Help” flyer with clients. The flyer includes the MIPPA Community Development Specialist’s direct phone number and contact information. 

The distinction between the ACP and AOP is that the ACP completes and submits the “Extra Help” application on behalf of the client and submits a client contact form to the local MIPPA Community Development Specialist. AOPs act strictly as a referral source and are not required to complete a client contact form, so training an AOP partner can typically be completed in an hour.

The Nevada ADSD’s goal was to have program information available in as many settings/locations in their service areas as possible, so both options are offered to each agency contacted.  If an agency indicates that it is too busy or not interested in the more involved option of ACP partner, they can still participate by making “Extra Help” information available to our Medicare beneficiaries as an AOP partner.

Results

This program has been a success for the intent to reach more beneficiaries. The ADSD continues to be excited about it and to work to include more agencies, businesses, and organizations. Currently there are 10 Agency Champion Partners and 9 Agency Outreach Partners in our developing network. 

In the first year 101 Extra Help applications were submitted by both types of agency partners.

In the first year 101 “Extra Help” applications were submitted by both types of agency partners. Expectations are good for this year as well.  A new DaVita Dialysis Center is opening, and the ADSD has already been contacted to train their new social workers and offer an update training for those already on board.  There are also several partners in Pahrump, Nevada where there are two MIPPA volunteers.

Challenges

In the first year, training of all the employees of the new agency partners required a significant amount of time for the MIPPA Community Development Specialist. The MIPPA program has since turned over much of the responsibilities for ongoing outreach to three volunteer leads. One lead is charged with contracting agency partners once about every two months to monitor staff turnover, answer questions, provide needed supplies, and conduct update trainings.

The ADSD has found that most corporate groups and chain pharmacies have not been interested in program participation, as most have their own drug discount programs which they are interested in promoting. The agency continues to look to expand partnerships and feels lucky to soon be adding additional health care partners, including the multiple locations of the highly regarded Regional Comprehensive Cancer Centers.

Agency Contact Information

Sharon Goldstrohm, BA, MS
Community Development Specialist, Contractor
Nevada DHHS