MeHAF and Maine Community Health Options (MCHO) Announce $300,000 Grant to Support Development of a Member-Directed Health Insurance Plan

January 23, 2013

The Maine Health Access Foundation(MeHAF) and Lewiston-based Maine Community Health Options (MCHO) announced today the award of a one-year grant of $300,000 to MCHO to assist in developing and marketing  a new patient-centered, affordable non-profit health insurance plan that will be available on the new Health Insurance Exchange in Maine as early as October 1, 2013. Insurance exchanges were created under the Affordable Care Act to give consumers and employers more affordable quality health insurance options.  Because MCHO is a new kind of non-profit-- a Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) -- surplus revenues of the organization will go toward lowering the cost of health insurance to members and improving plan benefits instead of being paid out to shareholders.

"As a new health insurance provider, MCHO expands Maine's insurance market and offers the promise of more affordable coverage, particularly for underinsured people and small businesses," said Dr. Wendy J. Wolf, MeHAF's President and CEO.   "MeHAF's board of trustees understood that in order for this new kind of insurer to be able to attract and enroll subscribers, MCHO must have resources to educate and inform Mainers on what this new option will be. Our grant will enable MCHO to do the kind of robust communications-- such as community and provider outreach and marketing-- that will be critical to expand health insurance coverage to Maine people who are currently uninsured or underinsured."

Kevin Lewis, MCHO's CEO, added, "MeHAF's support is crucial because none of our federal loans can be used for marketing activities. We are committed to listening to the needs of Maine people, providers and employers and crafting a high-quality, patient-centered, affordable plan that is as responsive to those needs as possible." Lewis said that in developing its plan, MCHO will stress primary care and appropriate preventive services, with emphasis on integrated care and care management coordination. "We intend to build a plan that incorporates many of the innovative approaches to health care that are already being piloted and introduced by many health care providers all across Maine." 

MCHO Board President Jim Davis noted that the plan MCHO is developing will use these innovative approaches to improve patient experience and produce better outcomes at lower cost. "There are cutting edge health care initiatives happening right now all over Maine that MCHO will build into its plan. As a non-profit CO-OP, our core mission is to serve the health insurance needs of our members and policyholders at an affordable cost, thereby ensuring access to high-quality health insurance. Because of MeHAF's assistance, we'll be better able to inform Maine people and businesses about this exciting initiative."