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1,000th Uninsured Virginia Patient Secures Access to Quality Medical Care Through Virginia Cares Uninsured Program (VCUP)

Thursday, July 10, 2008 General News J E 4
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Year-Old Patient Assistance Program from the Patient Advocate Foundation and the Commonwealth of Virginia Helps Uninsured Patients Access Healthcare and Pay Medical Bills When Diagnosed with a Chronic, Debilitating or Life-Threatening Illness



NEWPORT NEWS, Va., July 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF) - a national, non-profit organization based in Virginia providing assistance to tens of thousands of patients every year who face access to healthcare issues due to financial or insurance denials - and the Commonwealth of Virginia announced today that the Virginia Cares Uninsured Program (VCUP), a free statewide patient assistance program launched in July 2007, has helped its milestone 1,000th patient access important healthcare and social services during a time of medical crisis.



The patient, Berta Palucho, contacted the VCUP after her leg was amputated as a result of being struck by a car in a hit-and-run incident as she crossed the street. The VCUP is helping Palucho secure a new prosthetic leg at no cost, as well as food donated through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which she will continue to receive indefinitely. The cost of the new prosthetic alone would have cost Palucho close to $20,000 in out-of-pocket expenses.



"I am so thankful for the Virginia Cares Uninsured Program and the immense help it provided to me - both in terms of the direct financial support and the emotional benefits I gained by knowing that people were fighting for quality medical care on my behalf," said Palucho, a 26-year-old Falls Church resident. "Without this program, I'm not sure how I would have been able to make ends meet with the costs of my care and having to navigate the new challenges of being an amputee on my own."



According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of the Census, approximately 47.6 million Americans do not have any form of health insurance. The 2005 Census estimates that in Virginia alone, there are 952,000 uninsured adults and 156,000 uninsured children, translating to approximately 12.8 percent of the state's population facing potential access to care challenges.



The VCUP was created to assist uninsured Virginia residents who have been diagnosed with a chronic, debilitating or life-threatening illness and are experiencing difficulties accessing appropriate healthcare attain needed medical care and screenings, fill prescribed medications and pay their existing medical bills. Without this type of assistance, uninsured patients commonly face a variety of serious medical debt and access to care crises that can significantly harm their quality of care and health outcomes.



"We are pleased to have been able to help Berta and the hundreds of other Virginians like her who were in desperate need of life-saving and life-enhancing medical care," said Nancy Davenport-Ennis, President and CEO of PAF. "Quality healthcare is a basic human need and a shared social responsibility, and we will continue to work closely with the Commonwealth and others to provide uninsured Virginia patients with access to a full continuum of healthcare services that meet pharmaceutical, surgical, radiation, physician and social service needs."



The VCUP's healthcare professionals at PAF help uninsured Virginians access care by seeking to negotiate funding and/or insurance coverage to access medical treatments; striving to negotiate free or reduced medications, nutrition, housing, utilities and free or reduced transportation and lodging for patients who must travel for treatment; assisting patients with obtaining insurance with COBRA, Medicaid, Medicare, Guarantee Issues Plans, HIPAA plans and FAMIS/FAMIS Select; and helping patients with applying, expediting decisions and appealing Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), L
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