Columbia Pacific CCO’s free phone program changes to meet members’ needs

Portland, Ore.—Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization’s free mobile phones program has changed to meet the way its members now communicate.

“With 56 percent of U.S. adults using smart phones, nearly half of 18-29 year olds using their phone as their primary link to the Internet, and those numbers much higher for people of color, we recognize that smart phones are the best way to connect our members to health,” said Mimi Haley, executive director of Columbia Pacific

For several years, Columbia Pacific CCO has helped its members, recipients of the Oregon Health Plan/Medicaid, access the federal free-phone program. The original service provided simple cell phones without Internet access. Beginning July 17, Columbia Pacific CCO’s new program will connect members to free smart phones with free unlimited texting, 350 free voice minutes/month, 500 MB free data/month and free unlimited calls to Columbia Pacific CCO’s customer service.

“Members will be able to call their doctor, dentist, pharmacist, health plan, even their mom when they need the kind of support only she can provide,” said Haley. “Well-being isn’t only about doctor visits. Making sure members have the Internet access needed to job hunt, seek housing, apply for the Oregon Health Plan or SNAP benefits is as important a part of their overall health as calling or going online to make a doctor’s appointment.”

To help make the smart phone program easily available to its members, CareOregon, which partners with Columbia Pacific CCO, contracted with Assurance Wireless, which is supported by the Oregon Telephone Assistance Program. The contract includes all partner organizations in the CareOregon Medicaid family, including members of Columbia Pacific CCO, Jackson Care Connect, CareOregon Advantage Plus and the Health Share members assigned to CareOregon in the metro tri-county area. All eligible members will be sent an application and letter from Assurance Wireless in the next few weeks.

A telecommunications fee levied by the federal government funds this program. People who qualify for Medicaid and some other special federal programs meet the income requirements for Assurance Wireless. Most members who already use the Oregon Lifeline telephone assistance program will not receive notification because it is limited to one phone per household. However, it is possible to switch programs to be able to use the free access to Columbia Pacific CCO Customer Service.

Members should wait to receive the letter from Assurance Wireless and follow the letter’s instructions on how to apply. No one will call members to ask that they sign up.

To apply, go lifelineapply.com/careoregon. 

News source: