Panel discusses lessons learned from outreach and enrollment. From Left: Lauren Tobias, Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy; Jennifer Brinker, Public Policy and Education Fund; Cathy Lamay, Saratoga Hospital Health Insurance Navigation Program; and Laura Loughran, Whitney Young Health Center
Guest Post: Bob Cohen, Policy Director, Citizen Action of New York
“This is a very important gathering with all the right people in the room, to talk about where we stand and where we’re going,” began Sherry Tomasky, Director of Outreach for NY State of Health, at the second in a series of outreach and enrollment summits being held in September and October throughout New York State. (Visit here for a post on the first summit, focusing on Manhattan and the Bronx and here for a post on the summit series.) “No matter how great we did in our first year …, there is a lot more work to be done going forward…. There are many more New Yorkers who need the coverage that they get through NY State of Health.”
Well over 100 advocates and community members – from the lower Hudson Valley to the North Country — attended the September 12th summit in Albany, organized by Citizen Action of New York/Public Policy and Education Fund and 1199SEIU, United Healthcare Workers East and sponsored by several statewide organizations, including HCFANY. Like the Manhattan/Bronx summit, the Albany event began with a review of how the first year went and upcoming plans by NY State of Health. In addition to the items detailed in the blog post on that summit, some of the new outreach initiatives NY State of Health Executive Director Donna Frescatore announced were:
- a stronger emphasis on themed events and festivals (e.g. Martin Luther King Day, Black History Month and the Hispanic Heritage Festival in the Capital District), where direct outreach will be combined with media and mobile texting campaigns;
- use of pharmacies and libraries to promote enrollment; and
- a “tear-off” card where people interested in health insurance can indicate their interest in being contacted.
The NY State of Health presentation was followed by a panel of three representatives of local organizations on what outreach strategies worked and what didn’t, led by summit moderator Lauren Tobias of the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy. Jennifer Brinker of the Public Policy and Education Fund, which provides navigation services in 10 diverse counties in the Hudson Valley and the Capital District (in addition to 2 in Western New York), cautioned that “what was successful in one county didn’t necessarily work in the next county.” That said, she mentioned word of mouth and jail enrollments as particularly useful strategies. Cathy Lamay of the navigation program at Saratoga Hospital highlighted how her program was able to encourage uninsured people paying out of pocket for their care to enroll, and Laura Loughran of Whitney Young Health Center talked about her success in combining outreach to clinic visitors with attending events in the surrounding community.
Many stayed after the panel for lively “breakouts” to discuss potential strategies for the second year of open enrollment, beginning on November 15. A follow up group will be convened soon to organize future coordinated activities in the region from a list of events brainstormed in the breakouts, like event outreach and media events to publicize open enrollment.