Anchorage Project Access is a local replication of a national model that has proven to improve health outcomes and reduce emergency room charity care costs in many communities. Residing fiscally and administratively under the nonprofit structure of Christian Health Associates, the project was founded and brought to the implementation stage through the collaborative efforts of many community stakeholders, including the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, a group of local physicians, Providence Health System in Alaska Community Benefit Program, the Rasmuson Foundation, United Way of Anchorage, Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center, The Foraker Group, Christian Health Associates, Municipality of Anchorage DHHS, Alaska Primary Care Association, State of Alaska DHSS, and Alaska Health Fair.
A physician-led initiative, APA and the volunteer provider network saw its first client in December 2005. Services provided by APA staff include all “back office” functions, such as enrollment, screening, and referral of patients to physicians; making patient appointments; phoning clients prior to appointments and ensuring access to transportation; maintaining physician relationships; providing physician recognition, and tracking and analyzing patient data.
The volunteer network provides the medical services, accepting and treating APA-referred patients as any other insured patients. Anchorage Project Access is founded on the premise that all participating patients have a primary care home. In addition to income eligibility, in order to receive services from APA, the patient must have a medical need. Patients must see their primary care provider, or be assigned and have a visit with one, before being referred to sub-specialty care: primary care physicians provide acute and chronic illness care. They refer to sub-specialty colleagues for consultation and interventions.
APA added the planned pharmacy component to the client services through an agreement with Carrs/Safeway pharmacies. Project Access patients receive medication assistance cards honored by Carrs/Safeway pharmacy (patients whose primary medical home is the Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center receive their medications through the ANHC pharmacy program). The program uses a limited formulary, emphasizing generic medications, and limiting expenditures for any one participant to $800 per year for medications.