Please help our service programs!
“I would have been homeless or dead without you. You got me the health care I needed, and thanks to you, I now have Social Security disability income and my house is warm in the winter and I have food to eat. You saved my life. You are my angel.” – Mr. M., Hotline client
Champaign County Health Care Consumers needs your support so that we can not only continue, but expand, our vital service programs that serve hundreds of local consumers every month. These service programs are an essential resource for local consumers, and they also form the backbone of CCHCC’s advocacy and community organizing efforts.
Most people know of CCHCC as the grassroots citizen action organization that fights against harmful policies and practices by local health care providers, or that works to mobilize people around legislative issues, such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program (just signed into law by President Obama), Medicare Part D, or universal health care. The public frequently knows about CCHCC when we make the news with a protest or a press conference, or when we release a report.
But what most people do not know is that there is another, less public, side to CCHCC – the side where dedicated CCHCC staff and volunteers work hard through our service programs to help hundreds of local people every month. People who, because of various circumstances and barriers, lack the health care they desperately need. People who are victims of bad health care policy – either the policies of local health care providers that limit or deny access to care, or state or federal policies that fail to meet the needs of everyday people. People in horrifying and desperate circumstances who turn to us when they have no place else to turn, and frequently, when they have no hope.
What many people do not know is that CCHCC’s service programs form the foundation for our very effective and nationally-recognized advocacy and community organizing efforts. Our clients’ experiences tell us where the health care system is breaking down and what real solutions are needed. Also, our clients frequently become advocates, task force members, and volunteers who help lead our advocacy and community organizing efforts because they want systemic change so that other people do not have to suffer what they have experienced.
By supporting CCHCC, you can help us bring the voices and priorities of real consumers to the national health care debate, for a real solution to what ails our nation’s health care system! Please read below for more information and testimonials about our service programs, and to learn how you can help CCHCC better serve the needs of local consumers and strengthen our capacity for advocacy and community organizing in this important legislative year when health care policy is at the top of our nation’s agenda.
Over the years, CCHCC has developed several different programs in response to the needs of local consumers. These programs keep us in touch every single day with local consumers and the issues they are confronting in trying to meet their health care needs. Every month our programs provide help to more than 400 consumers, each of whom comes to us in need, frequently seeking help they have been unable to obtain elsewhere. CCHCC is so good at helping consumers that we have developed a local, state, and national reputation for effectiveness. Frequently, other social service organizations, health care providers (especially hospital ER’s), legislators, and even attorneys will refer clients to CCHCC.
A key aspect of our service programs is the team of staff and volunteers who help provide the services offered by each program. Our volunteer Hotline Advocates are dedicated community members who donate their time to working with CCHCC’s programs. CCHCC recruits, trains, and supervises the volunteers, who, along with CCHCC staff, work hard every day to help fellow community members.
I found myself with a client abandoned by the medical and legal systems. While I thought I might be able to help with the latter, I knew the process would be too slow to meet the client’s immediate needs. I called Claudia at CCHCC, who the client now refers to as his “angel.” She and the CCHCC staff have quite literally saved his life by getting him needed medical care, and gone above and beyond in helping him keep his house, fix his furnace, buy groceries, until such time as food stamps and his Social Security Disability benefits were awarded, which CCHCC helped him get. I may or may not be successful in holding the legal system accountable for its abandonment, but I have no doubt that this client would not be alive today but for CCHCC’s help. – C.M., attorney, SpringfieldConsumer Health Hotline
The Consumer Health Hotline was established in 1980 to serve as a free resource for Champaign County residents who need help navigating the health care system. Consumers who call the Hotline work with staff and volunteer Advocates to obtain the resources and skills that enable them to effectively deal with the health care system. The Hotline provides information, referral, assistance and advocacy services to consumers by phone and in-office consultations, as well as occasional home visits. In addition to assisting consumers, Hotline Advocates frequently provide assistance to case workers or other staff of local social service agencies who seek help on behalf of their own clients. The Hotline currently receives over 400 calls per month. The Hotline also has bi-lingual staff and volunteers who serve Spanish-speaking clients, and who also assist these clients with interpreter services for other CCHCC programs, including the dental programs (see below).
The Hotline is truly the backbone of CCHCC. It is our ear to the ground, our direct connection to the community and what is happening to people for whom the health care system is not working well. We get calls about everything from where to go for rabies shots after being bit by a raccoon (true case – the hospitals and public health could not help this client), to requests for help with medical debt and how to access services when care is being denied, and even cases where the client’s life is in danger because of a lack of a needed health service. Staff and volunteers who work the Hotline are prepared to encounter anything and everything. Many problems can be resolved through phone or in-office work. Other cases may be more difficult and may require services that are beyond our staff’s or Hotline Advocate’s “job description,” such as home visits or meeting a caller at the Emergency Room to make sure their health care needs are met. Our staff and volunteers go “the extra mile” in responding to human need, so that CCHCC is almost always able to provide or find help for our callers.
Kay Smith is one of the many uninsured individuals in Champaign County who needed medical care but could not afford it. Kay called the Hotline last fall, and we were able to help her apply for a financial assistance program that linked her with the care that she needed.
“I appreciate your friendliness, concern, and the way you followed up on my progress. You’ve been such a huge help! None of this would have been possible without you and I am truly grateful.” – Kay Smith, Hotline client
As the economy worsens and layoffs increase (as they have been over the past year and a half in Champaign County, and now continue at an alarming rate), our Hotline receives more and more calls from desperate clients experiencing the double-edged crisis of unemployment and loss of health insurance and, with that, loss of access to needed health services. We expect the next few months and the year ahead to be especially difficult with a tremendously increased caseload at the Hotline. Our dedicated staff and volunteers are gearing up to do their best to help people through their personal health care crises as our nation weathers the storm of a national crisis.
Dental Referral Program
Over 50% of the calls to CCHCC’s Hotline are from individuals who are in desperate need for dental services. Through the Hotline, we can refer many clients into our Dental Referral Program, and we help others find the dental services they need.
CCHCC organized the Dental Referral Program in 1992, to provide low-income uninsured Champaign County adults with access to quality, affordable dental care. The Dental Referral Program is a collaboration with area dentists to provide dental care at a discounted rate to adults whose income falls below 185% of the poverty line. CCHCC screens and qualifies the clients and schedules their dental appointments with participating dentists.
Many of the clients who call our Hotline seeking dental care call us when they are experiencing a significant crisis – usually a painful and debilitating infection resulting from untreated dental cavities. Some clients have lost jobs because of too many absences from work because of the pain and sickness from the untreated dental problem. We are able to place many of our clients directly into the Dental Referral Program, where they get quality affordable care from our participating dentists.
“I went without dental care for over a decade, because I just couldn’t afford it. A tooth infection brought me to my knees. I didn’t know where to turn for help. I called CCHCC and got into the Dental Referral Program. My dentist didn’t just treat my problem tooth. He came up with a whole treatment plan for me, just like he would for any of his ‘regular’ patients. Now I don’t have holes in my teeth, my gums don’t bleed, I don’t have infections, and I can smile without feeling embarrassed. I am forever grateful to CCHCC and to my dentist. Because of them, I will keep my natural teeth for the rest of my life. I just don’t have the words to express what a blessing CCHCC and the Dental Referral Program dentists are to this community.” – Mr. B, ChampaignCCHCC is working hard to expand the Dental Referral Program and to collaborate with other dental and health care providers to increase access to dental care for low-income individuals in our community. With the recession and families hurting financially, we anticipate that even more people will suffer from untreated dental problems that will eventually become crises.
Medicare 100/Plus Program
The Medicare 100/Plus Program is a program especially designed to meet the needs of low-income Medicare beneficiaries (seniors aged 65 and older and people with disabilities) – a growing population facing ever-increasing health care costs. The Medicare 100/Plus Program assures access to affordable hospital-based health care and physician services for Medicare beneficiaries who are patients at Provena Covenant Medical Center and patients of Provena Medical Group physicians. This free community-based program is a collaboration between CCHCC, and Provena Covenant Medical Center and Provena Medical Group, that allows members to pre-qualify for, and receive discounts on medical costs for services received at Provena Covenant Medical Center or by Provena Medical Group physicians. The Medicare 100/Plus Program bridges the gap between health care costs and what Medicare reimburses by providing sliding scale discounts, up to 100%, on Medicare beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket costs. The discounts apply to Medicare Part A hospital deductibles, coinsurance, and other services provided by Provena Covenant Medical Center, and Part B coinsurance on services provided by Provena Medical Group physicians. The Medicare 100/Plus Program provides assurance that hospital costs at Provena Covenant, and physician services through the Provena Medical Group, will be affordable to program members.
“CCHCC’s Medicare 100/Plus Program has helped me during tough times to go to Provena Covenant hospital and get good care when I’ve been sick. I don’t know what I’d do without your program. I really and truly don’t.” – Mrs. A, Medicare 100/Plus member
Frequently, our Medicare 100/Plus members have many complex health care needs, including health care issues not covered by the Medicare 100/Plus Program, such as prescription drug costs or the need for dental care. They can find the help they need from the dedicated staff and volunteers of CCHCC.
“After eleven years of living overseas, we got homesick and decided to move back to the States. Smart move – except that medical issues have their own way of surprising you. We were totally unprepared and, without the timely, professional assistance we received from CCHCC, we would have had a very difficult experience. Chronic medical problems would have been neglected so that new medical issues could be addressed. Because of CCHCC, all of our medical needs are met and our dignity is in tact as well. We are grateful to everyone who has made it possible for us to remain as healthy as possible. Thanks and continued success.” – Medicare 100/Plus couple, Champaign
CCHCC could not operate these three service programs without the help of trained and dedicated volunteer Advocates. Here is one Advocate’s perspective on his experience:
“My name is Mark Laughlin. I’ve been working as a Hotline volunteer for CCHCC since last September and spend two hours a week helping out… What I like about volunteering here is that it allows me to learn more about what’s available within the community for disadvantaged consumers. There’s no doubt the expertise I’m gaining as an Advocate will come in handy. Since I handle my own cases, it gives me the opportunity to interact with the same clients on a weekly basis and learn their stories. Recently, a U of I employee who had been trying to settle an insurance billing issue for over a month finally got the matter resolved with our help. I was able to say goodbye to her knowing that CCHCC’s Hotline provided a great service and resource. Thus, my work as an Advocate is very gratifying. I would recommend volunteering at CCHCC to anyone with a desire to help the disadvantaged in this community and to learn more about how health care works (and doesn’t work) in Champaign County.”
While CCHCC’s service programs are an important and vital resource for the residents of Champaign County, our programs also create the foundation for our advocacy and community organizing efforts. Because we are in contact, every day, with people who are having problems with the health care system, our advocacy efforts are grounded in the real-life experiences, and needs, of consumers. This real connection to the grassroots is what makes CCHCC a credible, effective and powerful grassroots health advocacy organization.
This year has already shown itself to be a year of incredible legislative opportunity, both at the state and federal levels – health care reform is at the top of the national agenda and many potential plans and solutions are being proposed. However, many advocates and legislators do not have the on-the-ground experience of understanding how the “fine print” will affect real people. This is where CCHCC and our members and clients come in. We have the lived experience of knowing and seeing how and where the health care system breaks down, and this enables us to advocate for real and meaningful change that will make concrete improvements in people’s lives.
Make a donation to CCHCC: CCHCC makes every dollar count! Our service programs provide free individualized help to over 400 individuals every month. Contributions help cover the costs of everything from purchasing supplies, printing materials, mailing information to clients, to the staff time needed to help clients or train and supervise volunteers to help even more clients. And, of course, contributions also help support our efforts to advocate for local, state, or federal policies and legislation to reform health care laws and rules – and these efforts are always informed by the real-life experiences and needs of our clients.
- $10 Donation = Covers costs supplies, printing, and mailing costs for working with clients.
- $50 Donation = Counsel and guide two clients through their health care issues. We frequently help clients get their health care needs met.
- $100 Donation = Advocate on behalf of a client who has been denied access to care. We have a high success rate of helping clients gain access to needed health care services.
- $500 Donation = Train a new volunteer to work the Hotline or Dental program. Builds our capacity to serve even more clients.
- $1,000 Donation = Advocate for state or federal policy to reform health care laws and rules, based on our on-the-ground, real-life, local insights gained from our case work
Volunteer: CCHCC always welcomes new volunteers! To learn more about what volunteer opportunities are available, click here.
Join CCHCC’s Health Action Network: This year promises to be an exciting and active one, with many important legislative developments at the state and federal level. CCHCC’s Health Action Network can help keep you informed about important legislative developments and what you can do to take action. Through the CCHCC Health Action Network, individuals can help influence local, state, and national health care policy by taking action as part of a collective effort. In unity is strength! Actions range from making a phone call or writing an email to attending forums and meetings.
We appreciate your support and involvement. On behalf of the residents of our community who will benefit from your support, we thank you!