Field Lessons: An Interview with Wanda Brown

Retiring Nevada State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) Director, Wanda Brown, reflects on her experience with MIPPA outreach and SHIP over the last 10 years. Wanda shares insights on the importance of creating well-coordinated partnerships, the integral role volunteers play in state outreach efforts, and how changes in the low-income Medicare beneficiary population has impacted program outreach efforts. 

Listen to the recording.

Wanda Brown, retiring Nevada SHIP Director
Wanda Brown, retiring Nevada SHIP Director

Listed below a few highlights from our conversation along with several conversation place markers.  

Describe the structure of how Nevada’s MIPPA and SHIP programs work together to maximize outreach.  (Begins at 2:40 on the recording)

All of Nevada’s funding comes through the State Unit on Aging, which really creates a cohesive environment and allows all partners to work together to maximize outreach efforts and achieve our state-wide goals.

Describe some of the current partnership efforts currently underway in the state. (Begins at 21:30 on the recording) 

Nevada is looking to both public and private organizations to improve our outreach efforts. We have begun talking with the Nevada’s DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) to once again share Medicare Savings Program (MSP) potential eligible information with our office.  Additionally, our Agency Partner Initiative has our staff and volunteers working closely with private businesses, i.e., doctors, offices, pharmacies, and dialysis centers to help identify potential eligibles.

Talk about the state’s effort to locate and serve hard to reach populations like Native Americans, individuals with disabilities, and rural residents.  (Begins at 26:35 on the recording)

My role as a tribal liaison has offered access to the tribal health directors and provides consist connection between the SHIP and Nevada’s Native American communities. Over time, the community has come to recognize the value of MSPs and their ability to waive Medicare late enrollment penalties. Our rural outreach requires that staff and volunteers travel great distances to attend outreach and enrollment events and our travel budget reflects that reality. We know that consistency is key to building trust in the rural communities.

What past Center for Benefits Access resources have proven to be the most valuable to you and your network? (Begins at 41:10 on the recording)

The data visualization tool really helps us develop a strategy for our MIPPA outreach and ensure that we spend our funding wisely. The issue briefs and fact sheets that identify the number of Nevada residents we assist, and the value of those benefits go a long way to educate our lawmakers and improve the lives of Nevada residents. 

The Center for Benefits Access thanks Wanda for her years of dedicated service and appreciates her taking the time to share her knowledge and lessons learned.  Wanda, good luck on your next chapter!