Medical access coalition closes its doors

ESCANABA – The Medical Access Coalition of Delta & Menominee Counties, a service organization that provided assistance to low income uninsured residents of Delta and Menominee counties, has closed its doors.

MAC provided services between March 1, 2006 and June 30 of this year, but could trace its roots back to 2004 when Laura Woodworth, an Episcopal priest at St. Stephen Church in Escanaba, and a small group of church and community leaders began meeting at St. Stephen to discuss an opportunity to help those without health insurance access affordable health care.

Other board members who have served since MAC’s inception include Marilyn Casey, Tom Butch, Paddy Fitch, Cathy Mercier, and Jim Wayne.

With the help of a federal grant obtained by the Medical Access Coalition (MCAC) in Marquette, start-up funding was provided across the Upper Peninsula to support the creation of four additional local access coalitions. Each of the five coalitions created in the U.P. region have provided services to eligible uninsured residents in their counties and have collectively covered all 15 counties in the U.P.

According to the board and staff of the MAC, with mandatory participation in the Affordable Care Act there is no longer sufficient need for their services. They say it has been an honor and privilege to assist the residents of Delta and Menominee counties in accessing health care for the past eight years and hope all who need health care will take advantage of the plans available either through employers, the Marketplace, or Michigan’s Department of Human Services.

The Medical Access Coalition of Delta County (MACDC) first contracted with the Public Health Department of Delta & Menominee Counties in 2005 to help get the program up and running. A few months later Menominee County joined with Delta and in 2008 the MAC offices moved to locations at 1101 Ludington St. in Escanaba and 1101 11th Ave. in Menominee.

According to MAC Director Mary Williams, in the eight years MAC was in operation services were provided to more than 5,000 residents in Delta and Menominee counties.

Enrolled MAC members received a generic medication card with a $4 co-pay and received assistance in applying directly to the Pharmaceutical Company Patient Assistance Programs for free brand name medications. MAC leveraged $9,992,557 in free medications for its members between 2006 and June of this year.

In addition, MAC provided free diabetic testing supplies and helped members apply for free or discounted eye exams, glasses, sleep apnea machines, and medical care through charity programs offered by local health care providers and hospitals.

MAC was the “call center” for the Care Free Dental Clinic of Delta County since the clinic’s inception in 2007. Residents who need information about the Care Free Dental Clinic can call 789-1434 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Following the enactment of the ACA, MAC staff became trained as Certified Application Counselors to assist members in applying for insurance coverage available on the federal marketplace. MAC was also designated as a “Community Navigation Partner” with the Department of Human Services to assist members in applying for Michigan’s newly expanded Medicaid, the “Healthy Michigan Plan.” MAC staff successfully assisted their enrolled members to secure other coverage.