Newsletter (September 2020)
Newsletter (December 2020)
In This Issue
Happy Holidays from the MHHA Staff !
2020 Census Wrap Up
By leveraging and activating existing community partners in high need and under-resourced communities in Southwest Denver, Montbello, and Northeast Denver, we successfully distributed over 20,000 pieces of collateral during our Census outreach work this year.
We used various strategies to reach Denver’s hard-to-count populations, including hosting community COVID-19 testing events, partnering with food distribution sites, training Promotores and trusted community leaders, commissioning chalk artists to promote the Census in three hard to count neighborhoods, aerial messaging, social media posts and ads, phone banking, and extensive literature distribution by more than 40 community partners. One of our Facebook ads directed towards Spanish-speaking families and those with young children in Denver reached nearly 13,000 individuals and produced over 2,000 clicks to 2020census.gov.
As a result of our collaborative outreach efforts, we educated an estimated 87,000 people about the importance of the Census and how to complete it. By the time we reached the October 15th deadline, Denver had a 69.3% self-response rate, on par with the 70.0% statewide average self-response rate.
Medicaid Enrollment Reverses Course in 2020
Medicaid Enrollment Reverses Course in 2020
We have all experienced innumerable things that have made this year unprecedented. Medicaid enrollment trends are no exception. Between 2017 and 2019, Colorado saw around 25,000 people disenroll from Medicaid, a 12% decline. By contrast, in 2020, statewide Medicaid enrollment numbers increased by more than 75,000 between March and October.
In the spring, the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) estimated that half a million Coloradans would enroll in Medicaid by the end of the year due to rising unemployment and their requirement to refrain from disenrolling anyone for the duration of the federal public health emergency.
While we aren’t seeing new enrollee totals approaching the 500,000 mark anticipated by HCPF, a steady upward trend in enrollment is occurring in Denver County and statewide. In fact, we are seeing similar upticks throughout the nation.
Perhaps the lower-than-expected enrollment increase we are seeing so far is because many eligible Coloradans are unaware that they qualify. The lower totals may also indicate people’s hesitation to enroll in Medicaid or other public benefits due to public charge fears or the stigma associated with safety net programs.
In order to combat this stigma and reach all uninsured Coloradans, we have been working alongside HCPF and other organizations across the state on outreach and enrollment efforts. The current open enrollment period ends on January 15th.
HCPF’s new landing page, We’re Here for YOU, Colorado! has information for people and providers. MHHA also participated in a nation-wide coordinated enrollment push on December 10th. Partner organizations have been asked to take the lead on different parts of the campaign; HCPF is investigating whether there might be resources to support this effort.
Here is a quick breakdown of Medicaid income eligibility limits: a qualifying household’s income must not exceed 133% of the federal poverty level, which equates to about $1,415 per month for a single individual and $2,904 per month for a family of four. In addition, individuals making up to $4,253 per month and families of four with an annual household income up to $8,733 can still qualify for financial help to cover their monthly premiums through the insurance marketplace.
Connect for Health Colorado offers free assistance from their certified enrollment experts to individuals and families seeking insurance coverage. Please direct people to their website to ensure they are covered in 2021.
Vaccine Hesitancy Is Widespread: How Do We Combat It?
A poll of 1,008 Coloradans by Healthier Colorado in late November found that 40% of respondents did not intend to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. They reported that 39% of white respondents, 44% of Latinx respondents, 48% of Black respondents, 34% of people with a college degree, and 69% of people with a high school education or less were not willing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Pew Research Center data indicate that willingness to receive the COVID-19 vaccine has plummeted across racial and ethnic groups nationwide since the spring, making it clear that vaccine hesitancy is a problem everywhere.
Healthcare workers are not exempt from this uncertainty. A national survey of nearly 13,000 nurses in October found that 36% would not voluntarily receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and 31% were unsure. Reasons for increased vaccine skepticism include concerns about politics influencing the development and approval process, the “warp speed” timeline, and the lack of diversity in clinical trials.
Vaccine hesitancy also has historic roots for the African American population. Deidre Johnson, the executive director of the Center for African American Health, was recently interviewed for a 9News article about racial and ethnic disparities in flu vaccination rates. She stated that, “All of these disparities, whether it’s flu vaccine or the COVID issues, they’re all deeply rooted in systemic racism… Our system is creating exactly what it was designed to do.”
We are facing rising mistrust and misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine as initial doses are arriving in Colorado. In order to create an equitable pandemic response and achieve herd immunity, we need tailored community-specific messaging to combat misinformation, earn trust, and spread the message about the importance of getting vaccinated.
What We’re Reading
The Internet’s Public Health Moment: What the 2020 US presidential election can teach us about the need for new knowledge in the digital age
Hate Motivated Behavior: Impacts, Risk Factors, and Interventions
Equity in the Age of Telehealth: Considerations for California Policymakers