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February - 2015
SOAR Success Stories
This month, we are going into our archives to bring you one of our favorite success stories. We know that it is sometimes easy to get lost in data, and we feel that it is important to remind ourselves of the difference SOAR can make in an individual's life. This success story comes to us from Betty R., a SOAR consumer who was formerly homeless:
"Within two and a half months, she [Betty's SOAR Case Manager] was able to get my disability for me. It was awesome. Without a lawyer. I never knew anything like that could happen.
The biggest change...realizing who I am again. Because when you think you're not much of a person, that's a big issue.
I would really like to save up and get a sewing machine. I would really like to start making socks, scarves - even fleece blankets in my spare time - wouldn't cost a lot of money. And make them...to give to the homeless.
I've gone way up with the SOAR program and I'm still going up. I don't want to go back down ever again. I don't think I will. Now, with the basic income, I think I'll be okay - I'll be just fine."
There are hundreds of stories like Betty's thanks to you. Thank you so much for the work that you do, and the difference you've made in your clients' lives.
Sharing Our Successes
Missouri: Missouri's Department of Mental Healthhas created a dedicated billing code for SOAR services. This code will allow contracted Community Mental Health organizations to receive $450 upfront for opening a case and completing all the SOAR critical components and an additional $275 once the case has been approved by the Social Security Administration. A dedicated billing code will allow more organizations to participate in SOAR and monetarily benefit from successful applications. Great job, Missouri!
Tennessee: Congratulations to Park Center in Nashville for the receipt of SAMHSA's Cooperative Agreement to Benefit Homeless Individuals (CABHI) grant, awarded through the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Nashville Metropolitan Homelessness Commission. They are using the funding to support one dedicated SOAR Coordinator and four Homeless Outreach Workers, who will provide housing and supportive services for Veterans and individuals experiencing chronic homelessness. Park Center is partnering with Mental Health Cooperative, which will provide case management to increase housing retention. Way to go, Tennessee!
Social Security to Expand Field Office Hours Nationwide
As a result of Congress' approval of the fiscal year 2015 budget, Social Security will expand its hours nationwide. Effective March 16, 2015, field offices will be open to the public for an additional hour on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays (e.g., a field office that is usually open from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. will remain open until 4:00 p.m.). Offices will continue to close to the public at noon every Wednesday so employees have time to complete current work and reduce backlogs. Read the full press release.
Enrollment and Retention Flexibilities to Better Serve Medicare-Eligible Medicaid Enrollees
The Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS) have released an informational bulletin describing existing enrollment and retention flexibilities that can: 1) assist states in meeting their obligations to screen Medicaid enrollees for Medicare Savings Programs and other categories of Medicaid when the enrollees become Medicare-eligible; and 2) improve the stability and continuity of Medicare Savings Program coverage. Read the bulletin.
2015 Federal Poverty Level Standards
CMS released an informational bulletin regarding the 2015 updates to the federal poverty guidelines. By law, these updates are applied to eligibility criterion for programs such as Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The 2015 Dual Eligible standards have also been updated based on the percentage of Federal Poverty Level. Read the informational bulletin.
Better, Smarter, Healthier: In Historic Announcement, HHS Sets Clear Goals And Timeline For Shifting Medicare Reimbursements From Volume To Value
In a meeting with nearly two dozen leaders representing consumers, insurers, providers, and business leaders, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced measurable goals and a timeline to move the Medicare program, and the health care system at large, toward paying providers based on the quality, rather than the quantity of care they give patients. Read the full press release.
The Hearst Foundations work in a number of important areas such as health and social services. They provide program, capital, and general support and fund organizations that work to ensure that people have the opportunity to build healthy, productive, and inspiring lives. The Hearst Foundations fund direct-service organizations that tackle the roots of chronic poverty by applying effective solutions to the most challenging social and economic problems. The Foundations prioritize supporting programs like SOAR that have strong track records of facilitating economic independence.
The Walmart Foundation's State Giving Program plays an essential role in the Foundation's mission to create opportunities so people can live better. The Program provides grants ranging from $25,000 to $250,000 to 501(c)(3) organizations that focus on areas of interest to SOAR providers, such as access to health care and other human services.
Fitting very well with the goals of SOAR, one of the Bank of America Foundation's areas of interest is access to benefits to transition financially-distressed, low-income individuals and families to financial stability. In addition, the Foundation highlights their interest in "addressing immediate shelter needs and long-term supportive housing for vulnerable individuals and families with a focus on housing-first or place-based approaches that make supportive wraparound services available to those seeking financial security and independence."
Recent Stories from the SOAR Voices Blog
Trainers to Local Leads
Over the past year, many transitions have occurred at the national SOAR TA Center: we entered into a new contract with SAMHSA, transitioned from in-person trainings to the SOAR online course as the predominant method of training, and created a new national training model known as the SOAR Leadership Academies. Read more...
SOAR is about being creative. Let's face it, the disability process is challenging enough on its own. Adding claim representation and intensive case management support for this special population can make it even more frustrating and cumbersome. Read more...
Appeals (Part 1)
How can you make compelling opening statements, ask thought provoking questions, and carry your theory of the case (i.e., why you think the applicant is disabled) from start to finish? Think back to the process of writing the medical summary report (MSR). Read more...
Do you have a submission for the SOAR Voices blog? E-mail your story to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Webinar: Presenting 2014 SOAR Outcomes and SOAR Superstars!
Join us for our next webinar on Wednesday, February 25th, 3:00-4:30pm (EST).
In this webinar, the SOAR TA Center will share results from the 2014 SOAR Outcomes Summary. As we have done in past years, we will share data and provide community examples in areas including; initial applications, appeals, cost savings, and collaborations. You will learn which states have top approval rates! Presenters will also include states that have achieved consistent outcomes and states that showed significant improvement in 2014. Presenters will share their secrets to success and explain how your community can get there too.
This webinar is recommended for SOAR Providers, SOAR Coordinators, SOAR Trainers, SOAR Leaders, and others in the community who would be interested in SOAR outcomes and successful SOAR states.