Thursday, April 23, 2009

No Cost Health Care for Children, Pregnant Women and Adults over 19

Rhonda Ulmer,
Community Health Advocate for Prince George County

Priority Partners, one of seven Managed Care Organizations authorized by the State of Maryland to provide health care services for Medicaid and Maryland Children’s Health Insurance Program recipients, is owned by Johns Hopkins and Maryland Community Health Systems, a group of federally qualified health centers throughout the State.

Priority Partners and Johns Hopkins HealthCare have an established a network of doctors, health centers, and hospitals throughout the State offering doctors visits, vision care, prescription coverage, immunizations, hospital coverage, dental care, and no-cost over-the-counter medications, as well as mental health and substance abuse services. To manage complicated healthcare issues, Priority Partners has established several Care Management initiatives which provide one-on-one nurse case managers to assist individuals in understanding their illness, adapting to their treatment plan, and coordinating medical appointments.

Priority Partners also offers a Health Advocate program to low- income and moderate-income residents and community groups interested in learning more about staying healthy, and providing a healthy environment for their families. Rhonda Ulmer is the Community Health Advocate for Prince George County. Ulmer will provide health information classes to community groups in Prince George County.

Local schools, community associations, government agencies, and faith-based organizations who serve such residents may contact Ulmer at (410) 424-4692 or to arrange presentations on Pregnancy, What To Do When Your Child Gets Sick, Stress Reduction, Diabetes, Nutrition and Obesity, and How To Be Your Own Health Advocate, among other topics. Attendees will get take-home program summaries and resource/contact information. Ulmer is also available for health fairs and other community events.

The Maryland Children’s Health Program (MCHP) was established in 1998 using federal and state funds to provide no cost health care coverage to children up to age 19. The program also offers eligible pregnant women of any age full pre-natal, delivery, and post-partum health care.

Eligibility for MCHP, determined by family size and income, is based on a sliding scale. For example, a family of four with income at or below, approximately $44,100 would qualify to have their children enrolled in MCHP at no cost. In determining eligibility for pregnant women, the program counts the unborn child as a member of the family and increases the income eligibility levels significantly (i.e. a family of four including a pregnant woman would qualify with a household income as high as, approximately $55,100).

In cases where household income is somewhat higher, many families are eligible for MCHP Premium, a low-cost health insurance program. For example, a family of four with at income between, $55,100 and $66,200 could participate for a monthly fee of approximately $48 or $60 based on family size and income eligibility.

In July, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene expanded MCHP to include the parents and guardians of MCHP children at or below 116% of the poverty level. Priority Partners also promotes health care services through the Primary Adult Care (PAC) program, which offers no cost health care for low-income adults 19 and over. Services include:

· Unlimited Primary Care Visits
· Over-the-Counter Medicines
· Prescription Drugs
· X-rays & Laboratory Tests
· Diabetes Screening & Care
· Mammograms, PAP Tests & Prostate Exams
· Vision & Podiatry Services For Diabetics
· Routine Dental Care

For more information about Priority Partners call 800-654-9728, or log onto on the Web. Contact the county health department to apply for MCHP.

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