‘Papa’s Pals’ Helping Highmark Wholecare Members in Pennsylvania

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by Mary Chapman |

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Papa, an at-home companionship and support platform, has partnered with Highmark Wholecare, a managed care organization, to address the social needs of Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable populations, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients and people at risk of isolation.

The collaboration, touted as a new approach to member engagement, will serve eligible members of Highmark Wholecare in that state and particularly those receiving Medicaid. In addition to COPD patients, the effort includes people with cardiovascular disease, anxiety, and depression, and also aims to support those at risk of isolation.

The overarching goal is to help people on Medicaid, a federal-state health coverage program for low-income U.S. residents, gain whole health — not just physical health — by addressing social determinants that affect well-being.

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“Medicaid beneficiaries are too often overlooked in the health care system. It’s time we deliver the quality, compassionate, human care that these members deserve, which is especially critical for those who live with chronic conditions,” Andrew Parker, Papa’s founder and CEO, said in a press release.

“Through our partnership with Highmark Wholecare, our Papa Pals can understand firsthand member needs and help address the far-too-common barriers to health and vitality. Highmark Wholecare is a leader in providing whole person care, and we’re proud to join them in a collective mission to improve health outcomes for this vulnerable population,” Parker added.

To better close care gaps and improve members’ well-being and life quality, “Papa Pals” come to members’ homes to help with everyday tasks, such as meal preparation, light housekeeping, and local transportation. They also help people troubleshoot technology issues, like those involving personal computers, and generally offer companionship.

“At Highmark Wholecare, our mission is to care for the whole person in communities where the need is greatest and we see a future where everyone has an equal opportunity to achieve their best health,” said Anthony Solem, vice president of Medicaid at Highmark Wholecare.

“We continuously search for ways to improve the lives of our members facing difficult circumstances. We are proud to continue our partnership with Papa beyond older adults, and to provide our eligible Medicaid members with additional resources and services. Through this partnership, we can improve the daily lives of our at-risk Medicaid members,” Solem said.

Studies have shown that generalized anxiety disorder can be more common in COPD patients than others without this disease, and that social support, in addition to exercise, can help them in leading more active lives.

Highmark Wholecare was previously known as Gateway Health.