Community Health Plan of Washington opens first Spokane office
Organization will expand integrated care support
Natasha NellisSeptember 12th, 2019
Seattle-based nonprofit Community Health Plan of Washington has opened its first office in Spokane.
Located in the Rock Pointe Corporate Center, at 1212 N. Washington, the new, 2,000-square-foot office will serve as CHPW’s regional headquarters, which will allow it to provide more integrated community services, says Seattle-based CEO Leanne Berge.
The 27-year-old Community Health Plan of Washington serves 270,000 individuals in Medicaid and Medicare programs throughout the state, says Berge, and is a community-governed plan that works to deliver accessible health care services. She says CHPW currently serves about 30,000 members in the Spokane region.
This opening is part of a larger push by the nonprofit to meet the needs of members better in light of recent changes by the state to behavioral health services, she says.
“The impetus for moving into the regional office was the fact that the state has changed some of our services related to behavioral health coverage and the work that we do with the behavioral health providers,” she says.
The state of Washington issued a mandate in 2014 that every county in Washington transition to Fully Integrated Managed Care under the current Medicaid system by 2020 and is meant to provide clients access to both medical and behavioral health services through a single managed-care plan.
Beginning in 2019, behavioral health services were added to the list of services Medicaid managed-care organizations were required to offer, Berge says.
The organization also has opened offices in Vancouver and Pasco and is planning on opening another in Mount Vernon to meet this need, she says.
The Spokane office has been a year in the making, she adds.
“We are the only local Washington state Medicaid managed-care plan,” she asserts. “We wanted to be closer to our members so we can provide more services in person around care management and other community health workers.”
Liz Perez, the new regional manager of the Spokane office, says the central location of the new office is an integral part of the organization’s push to integrate more into the community.
“Many of our members don’t have phones or access to the internet,” she says. “Being able to meet with them in person makes a huge difference.”
She contends the Spokane office also allows the organization the opportunity to be more engaged in the community itself through community events and provider partnerships.
“There’s been this recognition that you can’t do it alone,” she says. “By working in this more team-based approach there’s an opportunity to be successful.”
Community Health Plan of Washington currently has several partners in the Spokane area: the Community Health Association of Spokane; the Spokane offices of Puyallup-based New Health Community Health Center; and Unify Community Health, the Spokane-based center of the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic.
Also included is Providence Health & Services, MultiCare Health System, and Eastern State Hospital, and it has a contract with the Spokane-based behavioral health services provider Frontier Behavioral Health.
Berge adds that the new office will open opportunities to work more closely with organizations that aren’t involved primarily in health care but have a stake in community member’s well-being.
“We think this will enable us to be much more tightly integrated with a variety of community organizations, including local governments,” she says. “We work today with the justice system, county government, and other local quasi-public organizations, as well as a number of organizations that provide home services to people who may be homeless.”
At a grand opening ceremony on Sept. 4, a myriad of representatives from providers and partners overwhelmingly spoke of their excitement at having a centrally located Community Health Plan of Washington office, including Jeff Thomas, the CEO of Frontier Behavioral Health.
Thomas says the future of integrated health care is going to take the collaboration of everyone to make it work, and CHPWs new office is an important step in the right direction.
Perez says the office will have six employees who will cover community health, regional cases, and member engagement, as well as an Eastern State Hospital liaison. The office also will serve as the base for over 30 remote regional workers for the company.