CSU, Chico News

Center for Healthy Communities to Help Adults Enroll in Money-Saving Programs

Date: 05-31-2016

Ashley Gebb
Public Affairs

Jenny Breed
Center for Healthy Communities

The Center for Healthy Communities (CHC) at California State University, Chico has been chosen to establish the North State Benefits Enrollment Center (NSBEC) to help older adults and the disabled in Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Tehama, and Yuba Counties. The center will conduct education and outreach regarding programs that could save individuals money on health care, prescriptions, food and more, and will help them enroll, if eligible.

“The Center for Healthy Communities has a strong history of helping vulnerable residents in Butte, Tehama, Glenn, Colusa and Yuba counties,” said Executive Director Cindy Wolff. “We’re proud to be part of a national network of centers that since 2009 has helped over 700,000 low-income older adults and younger adults with disabilities to save over half a billion dollars and achieve long-term financial stability.”

The NSBEC is a partnership between the CHC, Passages and the National Council on Aging (NCOA), and is made possible through an 18-month, $100,000 grant. Residents in the five rural counties have traditionally been underserved, in part because of their geographic isolation, and the region has a substantially higher percentage of adults age 65 and older compared to the state and national average.

Nationally, half of all retirees live on incomes of less than $24,150 per year, and many lack the resources needed to meet basic living expenses. In Butte County, 17.6 percent of adults age 65 and older are below 150 percent of the federal poverty level, 7 percent have limited English proficiency and 66 percent of low-income Medicare beneficiaries have reported having a difficulty or disability of some kind—one of the highest levels in the state.

Several programs exist to help these individuals, but many people do not know how to apply for assistance, said Jenny Breed, CalFresh Outreach program director.

“Essentially, if you are an older adult, you have to go to multiple places to get resources,” she said. “We are striving toward creating a one-stop shop. With Passages, we’ll work together to cross-promote and pre-screen people, enroll people in five core benefits and help them be aware of other resources.”

The NSBEC is one of only 49 community organizations across the country awarded grants to serve as such a center, and is the only one in Northern California. These regional enrollment centers are supported with funding from the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act, administered through the U.S. Administration for Community Living.

Enrollment centers use NCOA’s free online BenefitsCheckUp tool to screen lower income older adults and younger adults with disabilities for a number of benefits—including Medicare Savings Programs, Part D Extra Help, Medi-Cal, LIHEAP and CalFresh — and to help them apply for and use those benefits.

To see if someone you know qualifies for assistance, call 530-345-9749.

About the Center for Healthy Communities: Chico State’s Center for Healthy Communities (CHC) is a leader in research-based nutrition, physical activity and policy changes to help reverse the world’s obesity epidemic. The center began in 2001 with one health program. Today, it has 27 programs providing services to all age groups in 19 Northern California counties, including all 12 counties of CSU, Chico’s service area. During the past decade, the center has boosted the North State economy with more than $35 million in grants. For more information, visit www.csuchico.edu/chc.