The Vineyard Health Care Access Program
The Access Program was established in 1999 by the Dukes County Health Council because it was documented that Islanders are more likely to be uninsured due to the seasonal economy and low numbers of large employers. Also, the Island does not have any local offices for MassHealth, Social Security, Unemployment or Transitional Assistance. It is a hardship for many Islanders to have to travel to the mainland to apply for programs in these offices, and it can be challenging to manage benefits over the telephone or on-line, so Dukes County and the six Island Towns have made a commitment to offer benefit navigation assistance locally via the Access Program.
The Vineyard Health Care Access Program is a community-based service of Dukes County that connects residents of Martha's Vineyard with health benefits. We help people to apply for, enroll in, and maintain coverage in health insurance programs including MassHealth (Medicaid), Medicare and Commonwealth Care. We also provide assistance with other government benefits like Social Security Disability and Food Stamps. We support our clients by "navigating" the bureaucracies of government benefits and private health insurance so Islanders can not only enroll in, but also maintain these essential benefits. In addition, we provide referrals to health care providers and resources. We also manage two health promotion programs: Vineyard Smiles, a mobile dental service for children of all ages and low-income seniors and disabled adults; and Healthy Vida, a wellness program with community-based health education and health coaching for Islanders who have, or are at-risk for, diabetes and other chronic diseases.