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Central Health Helping Ensure Quality End-of-Life Care Possible for People Who Are Low-income and Uninsured

Pilot project approved with Hospice Austin

(Austin) – A new pilot project in Travis County will ensure people who are low-income and uninsured can access quality end-of-life care.

The pilot project, effective March 1, provides $322,592 from Community Care Collaborative (CCC) – a non-profit public/private partnership between Central Health and Seton Healthcare Family – to Hospice Austin.

“We want to improve the quality of life for our patients and their families during the most difficult times,” said Jonathan Morgan, interim executive director of the Community Care Collaborative.” Hospice Austin has always provided compassionate care for our patients but until now, they haven’t been paid for these vitally important services. We believe reimbursing them for these services is the right thing to do.”

The Central Health Board of Managers voted Feb. 22 to approve funding for the pilot program.

The pilot project will pay for hospice services for patients of Central Health’s Medical Access Program (MAP). MAP covers the costs for primary care, prescriptions, specialty care, and hospital care for some of the poorest people or families living in Travis County who lack other health care coverage options such as Medicaid, Medicare, or private insurance.

In 2016, Hospice Austin served approximately 166 MAP and uninsured patients at a cost of $2 million. A majority of the patients suffered from a terminal cancer.

The additional funding from the CCC will focus on the terminally ill during the last six months of their lives.

“This is not an area we have historically worked in but we believe these are essential services for our patients and we want to make sure they’re available going forward,” said Larry Wallace, interim president and CEO of Central Health. “Many families feel the facilities Hospice Austin uses are an appropriate way for people to spend their final days, rather than in a hospital setting. Hospice Austin also emphasizes providing care at home when possible.”

The pilot project will reimburse Hospice Austin for hospice services on a short-term basis to determine if Central Health should include hospice care as an ongoing MAP benefit.

“This pilot program sponsored by the Community Care Collaborative will provide vital funding to enable Hospice Austin to continue providing excellent hospice care to anyone in our community who needs it, regardless of their ability to pay for those services. We are honored to be part of this innovative pilot,” said Marjorie Mulanax, Hospice Austin’s Executive Director.

Hospice Austin services include home-based hospice care and services at Hospice Austin’s Christopher House – which provides temporary, 24-hour expert medical care to patients whose symptoms cannot be managed at home.

“Central Health understands this is an especially difficult time for a patient and their loved ones, and we want to provide the most comfort we can,” said Dr. Mark Hernandez, CCC chief medical officer. “With positive results from this pilot program, hopefully we’ll be able to expand these services to all MAP clients in the future.”

About Community Care Collaborative

The Community Care Collaborative is a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation established by Central Health and Seton in 2013 to provide a framework for implementing the Texas 1115 Medicaid Waiver and an integrated delivery system for the uninsured and underinsured populations of Travis County.

About Central Health

By caring for those who need it most, Central Health improves the health of our community. We are the local public entity that connects low-income, uninsured Travis County residents to high-quality, cost-effective health care. We work with a network of partners to eliminate health disparities to reach our vision of Travis County becoming a model healthy community.

About Hospice Austin

Hospice Austin is a nonprofit organization that eases the physical, emotional, and spiritual pain of any person in our community facing the final months of a serious illness by providing expert and compassionate care, education, and bereavement support. Hospice Austin’s care is available to all eligible patients living in the five-county region of Travis, Williamson, Bastrop, Caldwell, and Hays counties.