Helping to Serve Those Most in Need

Originally Published by Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente will provide more than $40 million in grants to community-based organizations in the coming months. Many of those grants will help ensure access to health care for those most in need.

“We are a mission-based nonprofit that believes everyone has the right to good health,” said Cynthia Telles, PhD, Community Health Committee chair for the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals Boards of Directors. “We believe everyone should have access to affordable health care and we support our community members obtaining the care they need when they need it.”

Free or low-cost health care, coverage, and medications

Project Access NOW, or PANOW, one of the grant recipients, provides access to donated health care, enrollment in health care coverage options, and access to free or low-cost medications throughout the Portland, Oregon, area. The program also coordinates and negotiates care across different programs and providers, so recipients can apply for multiple health care assistance programs in one place. In 2018, PANOW provided:

  • A pathway for patients to receive more than $15 million in health care
  • Almost 5,000 uninsured individuals with donated health care
  • Almost 17,000 prescriptions, for free or with a $4 copay
  • $1.2 million to help people pay for their health plan premiums
  • Assistance to more than 7,000 children in enrolling in low-cost health insurance programs

“We don’t get anything done without partnership and Kaiser Permanente is one of our original partners,” said Linda Nilsen, PANOW’s executive director.

One person who benefited from PANOW arrived at an emergency room with uncontrolled diabetes. His wife had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and they couldn’t afford health care coverage, doctor’s appointments, or medications.

“Even a $25 copay was a huge barrier for them,” Nilsen said. “We identified that the entire family should go into Kaiser Permanente’s primary care program, so their care could be completely free and have no costs for medications. They said the program was a tremendous blessing for their family.”

Providing support where needs are greatest

The Kaiser Permanente grants also include funding for:

  • Santa Rosa Community Health and its campaign to rebuild a clinic that was destroyed by wildfire in 2017.
  • Fresno County Office of Education, which will fund a mobile school-based health clinic for students and families — particularly in rural Fresno County where access to care is limited or nonexistent.
  • Northwest Educational Service District and its Project Share, which will strengthen mental health supports for students in 2 rural school districts north of Seattle while also supporting staff well-being.
  • Highline Public Schools, located southwest of Seattle, Washington, which will expand the school system’s capacity to deliver mental health support, improve mental health awareness, reduce barriers to accessing school mental health services, and promote staff wellness.

“I’m proud of our work to improve access to care in our communities, “said Bechara Choucair, MD, Kaiser Permanente’s chief community health officer. “Our goal is to provide support where the needs and opportunities for impact are the greatest.”

Quarterly grants such as these are part of the contributions Kaiser Permanente makes each year to improve community health. Kaiser Permanente also serves the community through a range of programs including Medicaid, charitable health coverage, medical financial assistance, and medical research. In 2018, Kaiser Permanente dedicated nearly $2.8 billion to improve health and wellness in communities across the country.