Fishing Partnership Boosting Health Care Navigator Services with New Grant from Connector

fisherman_decal_sticker_fishing_wall_graphic_fish_boat_85e5ece6A leading provider of services to commercial fishermen and their families is among 15 organizations receiving state grants to promote enrollment in health coverage plans.

Fishing Partnership Support Services, which has offices and staff in four Massachusetts fishing ports, has been granted $110,040 by the Massachusetts Health Connector.

The funds will be used to expand the Partnership’s team of health care navigators, specially trained and certified personnel who help persons, at no charge, to understand their health coverage options and to fill out and submit online enrollment forms.

Fishing Partnership Support Services and the other recent grant winners will be keying on the upcoming open enrollment period for coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act: Nov. 15 through Feb. 15.

“We’re very glad our application for a Navigator grant was approved, and we’re grateful to The Connector staff and board members for selecting us,” said J.J. Bartlett, President of Fishing Partnership Support Services. “This support is crucial because so many fishermen are uninsured.”

There are approximately 10,000 active commercial fishermen and family members in Massachusetts. It is estimated that, of that number, some 10% do not have any kind of health coverage. For the state as a whole, only 2% of the population lacks coverage.

Fishermen are not nearly as easy as most folks to enroll in health plans, Bartlett explained, because they are independent workers, often isolated from their peers, and are spread geographically across a large number of coastal communities. Furthermore, since their incomes fluctuate depending on the catch, their eligibility for subsidized programs can change each year as well.

“They don’t report to an office building each morning,” Bartlett said of the fishermen. “They can be very hard to reach. And to find opportune times to discuss health care with fishermen and their spouses, we usually have to make repeated calls.”

The expertise and effectiveness of the navigators employed by Fishing Partnership Support Services stem from their origins in the Massachusetts fishing ports: Gloucester, the South Shore, New Bedford, Cape Cod and the islands. Fishing Partnership Navigators are from the community; they are, themselves, fishermen, fishermen’s wives and fishermen’s daughters.

Said Bartlett: “They know the fishermen and the industry because they are from fishing families. There’s no one who surpasses our navigators in speaking the language of the fishermen.”

Fishing Partnership Support Services has existed in its current form since 2012, but its history extends to 1997 when the organization began as a state and federally subsidized program known as the Fishing Partnership Health Plan. A non-profit organization, the Fishing Partnership ceased providing health coverage in 2011, broadened its mission, and became a kind of human resources agency for fishing families.

In addition to Navigator services, Fishing Partnership Support Services offers free safety trainings; health education and health screenings; preventive care, such as immunizations and dental cleanings; and referrals to a comprehensive array of social, economic and familial services.

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© Copyright 2014 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed