Jason Bearden, president of CareSource Georgia, talks about how the care management organization is using a mobile clinic to reach people at risk of losing their Medicaid coverage during the unwinding. Jill Nolin/Georgia Recorder
The state has leaned on its three care management organizations as part of its strategy to alert all 2.8 million Medicaid enrollees of the return of the renewal process, which the federal government had paused during the pandemic.
And on Wednesday, one of them – CareSource Georgia – publicly launched part of its plan to reach its members: Go to them.
CareSource Georgia says it is partnering with providers across the state to use mobile clinics, dubbed Wellness on Wheels, to help spread the word about what people need to do to keep their Medicaid coverage.
Laptops are on board to help people update their information in the state system and go ahead and renew their coverage if it’s their turn to go through the process. The state is handling the renewals in groups one month at a time.
An alarming number of people have been losing their Medicaid coverage during the unwinding for procedural reasons – like not responding to renewal notices in time – and not because they are no longer eligible.
“You can communicate, advertise all day, but to have tools and the resources right there at their fingertips to get it done – there’s nothing like it,” said Jason Bearden, president of CareSource Georgia.
So far, CareSource Georgia and its partners have five such rolling mobile clinics throughout the state. Wednesday’s press conference outside the state Capitol featured Atlanta-based Eastchester Family Services.
Dr. Seema Csukas, chief medical officer at CareSource Georgia, said the program targets “medical deserts” and brings medical and behavioral health providers to those areas. Data showing where members have missed routine wellness checks helps determine destinations.
“We’re looking for areas where there are a lot of gaps, and that’s where we want to set up shop,” Csukas said.
If someone is no longer eligible for Medicaid, Bearden said CareSource staffers are trying to help educate members on their other options, including a new Medicaid program launched in July.
Georgia Pathways to Coverage is an option for low-income Georgians who complete 80 hours of work or qualifying activity each month to gain and keep coverage. The state has planned for as many as 100,000 people to enroll in the program, but the new initiative is off to a slow start. Just 265 people signed up in the first month.
Bearden said about 50 CareSource members signed up for Pathways, which he called “critical.”
“If it is determined that they’re above – unfortunately – the Medicaid eligibility lines, the first stop is ‘Hey, let’s look at Pathways. Are you eligible for Pathways? Are you in school? Are you doing volunteer work? Are you working? Part time or full time, that might qualify you for Pathways,’” Bearden said.
“So, that is a big part of the continuum,” he said.
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