While all of our member CCOs are doing amazing things in their communities, this week, we decided to highlight the work that AllCare Health has been putting in to ensure that the children in their service area do not go hungry, despite the closure of schools.

Most children attending school in the Three Rivers School District are on a meal assistance program (MAP), meaning that they receive free or reduced cost lunches while at school. While schools are closed due to the pandemic, the children on MAP would not have access to meals normally provided to them on a daily basis. For children living in poverty, their main nutrition comes from the meals they receive at school.

Because AllCare Health is so ingrained in their community, they knew how many children rely on this food resource, and immediately took action to fill that gap by partnering with the Oregon Food Bank and the Three Rivers School District.

At the end of the day, AllCare Health and partners were able to donate, package, and deliver 180 boxes of food that all clocked in at about 9 pounds of weight. Why 9 pounds you ask? Because the staff at AllCare health wanted to give as much food as possible, but also wanted children to be able to carry their food boxes home if they had to walk to pick it up. Not only did these amazing partners consider the weight of their food package, they also made decisions about what to include in it, based on what would be easy enough (and yummy enough!) for children to cook on their own, as many parents may still have work obligations during the day.

A lot of hard work and brainstorming went into ensuring that these meals were given out in a timely fashion. In fact, several AllCare staff members personally hand-packaged and delivered these boxes of food to different schools throughout the district, all because they wanted to give back to their community. Sam Engel of AllCare Health said, “We wanted to make sure that our families, our neighbors were getting what they needed during this time.”

Originally, this relief was only planned for the two weeks Oregon schools were supposed to be closed. With the extension of school closures to April 28, AllCare intends to continue this program for the next four weeks in conjunction with its partners. Though the current pilot project is in coordination with the Three Rivers School District, AllCare Health is working with other school districts to expand this program to other areas.

In an official statement, AllCare Health said “The AllCare Care Coordination department is acutely aware that food insecurity is the number one social determinant of health challenge in our community.” AllCare Health is so committed to ensuring that Oregonians have access to food, they are coordinating several other food-resource services specifically for the COVID-19 pandemic. Another initiative AllCare Health is undertaking is the utilization of traditional health care workers to deliver groceries to the curbs of their most vulnerable members.

Thank you, AllCare Health, for your dedication, expertise, and genuine concern for your community!

As Oregon grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, CCOs are well-positioned to help Oregonians access health care. At its core, the CCO model is designed to keep people out of emergency departments and hospitals. In a time when we are expecting a huge surge of people to utilize hospitals for emergency care, CCOs’ ability to keep Oregonians out of much-needed hospital beds for non-COVID-19 reasons is absolutely paramount.

We stand ready to assist and partner with OHA in any manner helpful, and we appreciate the agency’s work to provide flexibility during this crisis.

All the member CCOs of the Coalition for a Healthy Oregon are working daily with Oregon Health Plan members, participating providers, state and county health departments, and other community partners to keep people healthy and meet basic needs, as well as support our amazing health care providers. Because our CCOs are experts at delivering high-quality health care and are uniquely qualified to advocate for their communities, they put their heads together to offer reasonable and sustainable policy options for policymakers to consider as they work to find solutions.

Speeding up enrollment: As many people get laid off or furloughed without pay, we know that individuals and families might lose health insurance or become eligible for Oregon Health Plan (OHP) benefits. One idea to maximize continuity of care is to presume Medicaid eligibility for people who already receive unemployment benefits or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food resources. This “presumptive eligibility” would allow CCOs to connect Oregonians with health care services in a timely fashion, preventing unnecessary hospitalizations. If a large number of Oregonians suddenly become eligible for OHP, it may be necessary to expedite the process of securing approval for capacity limitation increases.

Breaking down barriers: We appreciate Governor Brown and OHA for the speedy submittal of an 1135 waiver and State Plan Amendment to the federal government. Securing approval from the feds will allow CCOs to bypass certain requirements on utilization management, i.e., waiving prior authorizations and allowing people to receive care faster, including those who may be suffering from COVID-19. These measures will also allow CCOs to reimburse providers for telehealth services at a higher rate, and thanks to leniency from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), health care providers will be able to use a wider range of video technology for telehealth services.

Unprecedented community investments: CCOs have doubled down on food, housing, and other Health-Related Services to make sure no one falls through the cracks. Several of our CCOs have already taken action, using their social determinants of health investment dollars to ensure that children have access to food. While this funding cannot be sustained indefinitely, the state can take meaningful actions to support its continuation. One solution would be providing financial credits to allow these critical community investments to continue. Another solution could involve flexibility in how reserve requirements are calculated.

COHO is proud to serve the state and will continue to be a partner. As we navigate these issues together, CCOs will continue to do what we do best—care for our communities.

Yesterday morning, Governor Kate Brown issued an executive order broadening the types of businesses required to close their doors during the COVID-19 pandemic and creates a penalty for those that seek to break the order.

Though it may seem similar to the “shelter-in-place” orders that states around the nation are utilizing, our executive order differs in one major way. During a shelter-in-place order, the government creates a list of “essential businesses/services” that can stay open, because they provide health-related services, give residents access to food, like grocery stores, or are otherwise considered essential because our society could not function if they fully closed. In our state, the Governor simply expanded her previous executive order, by including more businesses to the list that must close. This will allow our state needed flexibility during this uncertain time.

The Governor’s office and Democratic legislators are sharing images like the one here, which are very clear about what residents can and cannot do under this executive order, as well as what businesses are to be closed temporarily.

Residents should and can: stay home as much as possible, stay at least 6 feet away from others when you go out, go out for essentials like groceries and medical care, exercise outside like hiking and biking as long as you can maintain your 6 foot distance from others, and drop food off to neighbors who can’t go out.

Residents should not: gather in groups, get together with friends, have play dates for kids, or make unnecessary trips.

These are the businesses that are still operating: grocery stores, banks, pharmacies, bars and restaurants for takeout and delivery only, some other stores (as long as you’re 6 feet away from other people!), and gas stations.

These are the businesses that have been asked to temporarily close: malls and retail complexes, fitness, yoga and dance centers, barbershops, hair and nail salons, spas, cosmetic stores, tattoo parlors, theaters, amusement parks, arcades, bowling alleys, skating rinks, museums, concerts, sporting events, festivals, campgrounds, pools, skate parks, playgrounds.

The executive order will be enforced on a complaint-based system, meaning that Oregonians not following the order will be ticketed after a complaint has been received, and an investigation completed.

Experts believe that the critical timeframe to stop the exponential growth of cases in our state begins this week, on March 24, 2020. Let’s be sure we’re fulfilling our social responsibility by working from home as we can, and only leaving our house on necessary errands.

As Oregon grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, CCOs are well positioned to help Oregonians access health care. At its core, the CCO model is designed to keep people out of emergency departments (EDs) and hospitals.

All our member CCOs (Advanced Health, AllCare Health, Cascade Health Alliance, Trillium Community Health Plan, and Umpqua Health Alliance) are working around the clock to assist OHP members and health care providers in any way they can. This includes working with community partners to provide housing, food and other Health-Related Services.

COHO members are actively preparing for a large influx of members due to the economic impact of the pandemic.

COHO has been working with the Oregon Health Authority to provide flexibility during these extraordinary circumstances, including expanding the use of telehealth. Now, providers can use FaceTime, Facebook Messenger Video, and several other platforms for virtual appointments.

As CCOs that serve Oregon proudly, we are looking forward to rising to meet the challenge ahead. We know that the health of our communities is imperative, and we know that all our resources and attention should be fully focused on this crisis.

Our highest priority is meeting our members’ needs. We’ve compiled some resources for those who may need them at this time. We will continue to update this list as we can.

  • What should I do if I lose my job? Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, our unemployment benefits are quickly being expanded to include those that are out of work due to the virus. If you would like to apply for unemployment benefits, you can do so here. If you are still employed, but need sick time, here is a resource to walk you through your rights to sick time.
  • What should I do if I lose my health insurance? If you have been laid off, you may be eligible for Medicaid, a government-funded insurance plan. You can apply for those Oregon Health Plan benefits here.
  • What should I do if I need access to mental health services? If you are enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan, you should have access to a mental health provider, but we recognize that sometimes wait times or lack of providers taking new patients might be a concern. Here are some more resources:

The Crisis Text Line: text TALK to 741741

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK

COHO CCOs are open to hearing your thoughts and questions. To share thoughts and concerns, please reach us here.

Click here to read COHO’s testimony, submitted to the Joint Special Committee on Coronavirus Response.

COHO member Umpqua Health Alliance suggested some out-of-the-box tips for staying healthy, both mentally and physically, during the coronavirus pandemic.

By following Governor Kate Brown’s order that all Oregonians practice social distancing and stay home as much as possible, we can help make sure that our vulnerable population is less at risk of contracting the virus, as well as “flatten the curve” of transmission to ensure health care professionals are able to take care of those who are sick. However, it can be difficult to stay inside for extended periods of time without getting restless.

Below are some tips from Umpqua Health Alliance on staying healthy and happy while staying home:

Wash your reusable grocery bags – Many Oregonians use reusable grocery bags rather than disposable ones. To avoid potentially carrying COVID-19 into your home after grocery shopping, thoroughly clean your grocery bags and wipe down your groceries as soon as you get home.

Blanch and freeze your veggies – As you may have experienced, grocery stores are often very crowded and can quickly run out of fresh food. Avoid crowded grocery stores by making the most out of what you have in your fridge. Blanch and freeze your fresh vegetables by briefly boiling them, then cooling them in ice water. This retains their color and flavor for future healthy meals.

For the full list of tips, click here.

The Oregon Health Authority, together with the Oregon Military Department, is assembling the Oregon Medical Station (OMS) beginning Friday, March 20, at the Salem Fairgrounds. The OMS is a temporary mobile facility dedicated for emergency use in situations like the COVID-19 pandemic. The mobile facility will provide an alternate site for 250 patients currently in nursing home care.

The OMS will:

  • Include beds, pharmaceuticals, medical supplies and equipment to support 250 patients.
  • Be staffed by members of the State Emergency Registry of Volunteers in Oregon (SERV-OR) and the Oregon Disaster Medical Team (ODMT).
  • Have staffing for 24/7 operations.
  • Be housed in the Jackson Long building at the Salem Fairgrounds in a state-owned building.
  • Use dedicated supplies that have been stored in Salem at the State and Federal Surplus Property.

For the full article, click here.