Your donation DOUBLES TODAY!

Through the years, Mrs. Sanders has had some ups and some downs. But through it all, Bread for the City has been there. “Bread for the City has become the one place that I can rely on,” she says.

copy-of-presentation-untitled-designSupporters like you, Friend, enable us to help 34,000 people each year. Will you stand with us in the New Year? Thanks to a generous donor, every dollar you donate today will be matched so your donation will DOUBLE in value!

We must be able to reassure Mrs. Sanders and others like her that we aren’t going anywhere: when food stamps run low, when layoffs or evictions occur, when Medicaid isn’t enough — Bread for the City will be there with groceries, legal assistance, social services, and healthcare.

Please take this year-end matching opportunity to support the critical services that Bread for the City provides. Make a gift today, and stand with us as we fight poverty in DC.

Today & Tomorrow: Your donation DOUBLES!

As we put this difficult year behind us, Bread for the City is preparing to face the challenges of 2017 head on.

With over four decades of service under our belt, it is vital that our services continue and expand in the coming years, especially as budget cuts and changes to healthcare access appear imminentWill you give today to support our work? If you make a gift before midnight on December 31st, your gift will be MATCHED by a generous donor!

untitled-designRecently, we’ve had a number of conversations with our clients, recording their concerns about 2017 so that we are prepared to help. With 31% of DC residents (and 68% of Bread for the City patients) either uninsured or on Medicaid, the vulnerability of being without private insurance weighs heavily on them.

Ms. Kennedy, a client of our WomenStrong DC wellness program and our food program, is worried about her family as she looks ahead. She asks, “Lots of people’s lives depend on Obamacare. What are they going to do if it goes away? How is their health going to be affected? People that have cancer and need treatment, where are they going to turn?”

At Bread for the City’s Medical Clinic, we treat nearly 3,000 patients every year, including children, the elderly, and those facing homelessness. Will you help us reassure Ms. Kennedy that we’ll be here no matter what? Your gift today will help sustain our work as we continue to be a cornerstone of the DC community.

Looking forward in solidarity.

Navigating DC’s Department of Human Services: My Experience as a Refugee

Last Thursday, the DC Council held an oversight hearing for the Department of Human Services (DHS), which provides low-income District residents with public benefits such as TANF, SNAP, and Medicaid/Alliance health insurance.

These hearings are an opportunity for community members to raise concerns about DC agencies. Below is an excerpt of written testimony from a Bread for the City client:

My name is Zahraa Alnajjar. I am mother to two children and wife to my husband. We are a Syrian family. Our story began when the war broke out in Syria and there was no way to return to the homeland. Everything there was gone.

My family applied for asylum in January 2013, and our waiting began. We did not have authorization to work, and the little money we had ran out. There was no way to get aid. We were lucky we could take our children to doctors at Bread for the City. They helped us apply for health insurance. My husband and I enrolled in Alliance, and my children received Medicaid.

My husband and I had to interview every 6 months in the human service center (H Street) to renew our Alliance. We always waited for hours. There was nowhere to sit.

Our cases stayed unchanged for two years and a half. I told the lady at the Service Center that our asylum would be granted in a month and she said: “I can’t do anything until you have documentation. When you get it you can get food stamps, TANF, and Medicaid”.

The day came and we got a letter indicating we were all granted asylum. We were happy because we knew with asylum came rights and hopefully we could work soon. I ran directly to the human services center … I dreamed that once I give them the papers we will get help, I will kill the poverty we had been living in, and forget the suffering and cruel nights that passed us by nearly 3  years in America…

After 4 hours, a lady rudely said: “Why you are here? You already renewed your Alliance!” I told her what her colleague said last time, and she interrupted: “This center is to assist American citizens not asylees. You have to go to the refugee center.”

At the refugee center, he said very coldly: “What do you want?? You already have health insurance” He talked to the assistant director. “Go back to H Street, they will switch your health insurance to Medicaid.”

Frustrated, I met with the health insurance worker at Bread: “I am so sorry for that. Go to the human services center, and I’ll explain to them.” She called them. They did not answer. She left a message.

I went back and waited as usual for three hours. The man who told me to go to the refugee center was surprised when he saw me: “Why you are back here?” He did not listen to the message from Bread. After a long discussion with his supervisor: “The refugee center was supposed to help you, but they refuse. My manager will call them.”

I felt at that time I’m like a ball they exchange among themselves in the time-out of a boring game.

I began the application and gave them all the papers they asked for. Then I got the rejection as if nothing happened, as if we did not get asylum.

On October 30th, I received a letter again to renew our Alliance…

I had completely given up. I did not want Alliance. The medicine we need is not covered by Alliance … Every day was worse than the previous! The problems with getting insurance negatively affected our health so much!

I told Bread I gave up and then talked to a lawyer. She went with me to Human Services. I felt I had power for the first time. I felt strong. It was still a long wait but finally we spoke to someone and months later I have Medicaid.

The name of the agency is Human Services. “Human.”  I always want to find the humanity. I don’t see that there. I suffered a lot. I felt like I was still in the third world. I want to help improve that. Because I love the USA.

What’s the matter with Medicaid in the District?

One of our most active client leaders from our community, Michael Blue, approached us recently with a problem. (Michael serves on both our Client Advisory Board and our Board of Directors, so we hear from him a lot.)

For years, Michael has been a recipient of Medicaid — and so he knows that he must regularly recertify for the program. Last month, however, Michael found that his Medicaid insurance was canceled despite submitting a recertification form on time. And Michael’s not alone.

Over the past six months, Bread for the City has seen a dramatic increase in the number of patients whose Medicaid enrollments have been canceled because their recertification applications were not processed on time by the Income Maintenance Administration (the agency that manages the District’s Medicaid enrollment, among other public benefits like food stamps).

Here’s what Michael told us about his problems with Medicaid recertification at IMA:

This has been a problem that has gradually worsened over the past few years. In the past, I’d get a notice along with an application for recertification. I’d send in the completed application within the proper time, and then a few weeks later I’d get two messages in the same day. One warning me that I hadn’t yet completed my recertification, and the other saying that the recertification had been completed. And this was before things got bad.

Soon it got to the point where you’d fill out your recertification questionnaire, and all I would hear back in the mail was the notice that they hadn’t received it. So first thing in the morning I got up and went down to the Income Maintenance Administration at 645 H street NW, and there I’d find out there that they had in fact received my questionnaire.

This time around, I got no notification whatsoever. All I got was a new insurance plan booklet in the mail; so I thought that everything was okay! Mind you, this was in June. Without any warning after that, I went to pick up a prescription on August 31st, only to find out that my insurance had been canceled!

So I was without insurance for a couple weeks. And I was making calls, getting recordings that said they’d get back to me in 24 hours. I went through three of the emergency numbers that they told me to call; each one gave me a different number to call, and the last of the three? Directed me back to the first number!

So Bread for the City finally stepped in. They were able to get in touch with someone down at IMA, who cleared it up within 24 hours. That person acknowledged that they were short staffed, and admitted that it was inexcusable.

Once again, I thank God for Bread for the City. I consider myself very lucky; my worst damage is that my blood pressure went up for a few days. I’m sure there are other people out there who don’t have access to a place like Bread for the City, who aren’t so lucky, and who are having this come down on their head.

Bread for the City’s enrollment coordinator, Norma Amador, confirms that these problems are part of a real and worrisome trend: “It’s at the point where it’s easier for us to do new Medicaid applications. To just start from scratch. Then a person has to spend all day in line, and it takes another three weeks to get insurance — but it’s actually more reliable.”

Norma also points out that it takes more time for IMA to certify a new Medicaid recipient than it does to recertify one. So when recertifications are improperly processed, and people are forced to start from scratch, it only makes the problem worse. But we are increasingly directing patients down that path.

“We see many sick people who need medicine to survive but cannot afford to pay for it themselves. So this is really a matter of life and death.” Although it is possible to be restored to Medicaid retroactively, clients whose insurance has lapsed often have to reschedule doctors’ appointments and delay filling prescriptions.

Why is this happening? IMA has been subjected to an extended series of budget cuts — and we’ve blogged before about the many problems that result when the agency isn’t capable of performing its functions. At a recent meeting with public benefits advocates, the head of IMA said that Medicaid recertifications would be processed by a dedicated team starting this month. We hope this will improve the situation.

We did it! Bread for the City surpassed our capital campaign goal.


—This post is by Dorothy Hawkins, member of Bread for the City’s Board of Directors.

As a member of Bread for the City’s Capital Campaign Committee, I am delighted to announce that Bread for the City has surpassed our goal of $8.25 million for our Northwest Center expansion, raising $8.35 million in total.

This great news comes just as construction on the new facility is completed, more than doubling the size of our Northwest Center. And as of this week, we are open for service!

It was no small feat to raise this much money, and right in the midst of the greatest recession in my lifetime. And I am especially proud of my role, not just as a member of the Capital Campaign Committee — but also as a Bread for the City patient.

I came here a decade ago, some time after I’d lost my job. When you’re my age, losing a job is like starting all over again–and it’s hard. I was near despair when I turned Bread for the City. They helped me put food on my table; they also provided me with some of the best health care I’d ever received, and even the resources and inspiration I needed to get back into the job market and eventually find a new job. Since my new job lacks health insurance, I stayed on with Bread for the City as a patient. I gave back by volunteering, and donating when I could. Eventually, I was invited to join the Board of Directors.

My proudest accomplishment as a board member is spearheading the development of a dental clinic in the new facility. Dental care is badly underserved in D.C. I know, because right now I’m having some serious issues with my teeth. They hurt, which makes it difficult for me to do my job. So I made sure that this was a high priority for the new medical clinic. Initially, Bread for the City expected to be able to open this dental practice three to five years after our expansion — but given how much support we received from the community, we now have the opportunity to hire a dentist even within this year. We are so grateful.

You can help us expand even faster than we’d hoped. There’s one week left of our Capital Campaign — one week in which donations of more than $500 will be recognized by the inclusion of your name on the Honor Wall in our new lobby.Of course, gifts of any size make a real difference, and give you a great feeling of being a part of something special — I know, because I’m a donor myself. I don’t earn much money, but I give what I can to Bread for the City. I’m sure they can get by without my help — but that’s not why I do it. I do it because it comes from my heart. I want to know that, for all the help I’ve received, I can then help someone else along the way.

So please join me by making a gift today. Together, we’ll ensure that Bread for the City can expand its services to thousands more people in the community — people like me.

Thank you for all of your support.

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>Medicaid Reimbursement Rates Go UP!

>This post is from guest-blogger, Lisa Johnson. Lisa has been working in our Medical Clinic as the Clinic Administrator for over a decade.

As of May 1st, Medicaid reimbursement rates have increased! Thank you to the Department of Health Care Finance for approving this increase and thank you to the DCPCA and all who have tirelessly advocated for the long-overdue, much-needed raise.

What am I talking about? Well, for years DC safety net providers have been frustrated by low reimbursement rates for seeing Medicaid and Alliance patients. On average, Bread for the City was reimbursed only about $35 per visit for Medicaid patients–however, an average medical visit costs us over $100. Big discrepancy!

However, as of May 1st, the Medicaid Managed Care rates in the District have increased to match the Medicare rates–this means they nearly doubled. Coupled with a matching increase for Medicaid Fee-For-Service patients effective 4/1/09 and a recent Alliance rate increase to $95 per patient, the Department of Health Care Finance is working hard to attract more providers to serve Medicaid and Alliance patients….and goodness knows, we need them!

While this new reimbursement still does not fully cover our costs, we are very grateful for the increase. Thanks, DHCF, for taking steps to more accurately reimburse providers for the care provided!

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