InnovaCare Health’s Penelope Kokkinides Advocates for a Healthier Puerto Rico

The island of Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria and is still in recovery mode. One of the pressing issues that remain for residents of the island is healthcare. As a result, makeshift clinics were set up throughout the island by Medicare y Mucho Mas, a subsidiary of InnovaCare Health. Medicare y Mucho Mas is one of Puerto Rico’s largest Medicare Advantage health plans. Medical professionals and staff at the clinic perform a range of services, including physicals and referrals for specialists. A total of 30 clinics have been set up across the island by InnovaCare since Hurricane Maria hit the island.

The services provided at the clinics changed over time to meet the needs of the patients. Some had conditions needing immediate attention and others were long term. The clinics were essential to the residents because many of the island’s doctors offices and hospitals were closed indefinitely. There was a lot of damage to the infrastructure of the island and many doctors left the island afterwards. There have been over 25,000 patients seen at the clinics, for conditions ranging from disease prevention and drug management to heart disease and diabetes.

The clinics also provide relief to those suffering from mental health issues. Hurricane Maria caused stress and trauma for many people, especially in it’s aftermath. Many elderly residents visited the clinics frequently and were especially vulnerable and fragile. Outreach efforts were also made to visit the elderly in their homes and distribute supplies throughout the island. Mental health support was also provided outside of the clinics. Many corporations donated food and drugs for distribution. Medicare and Medicaid covered costs for services provided.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is contemplating changes to Medicare Advantage payments. A meeting was held at the White House with Donald Trump to discuss these issues and federal healthcare legislation. The Chief Administrative Officer for InnovaCare, Inc., Penelope Kokkinides, was in attendance. The panel consisted of seven other women, including CMS Administrator Seema Verma. Ms. Kokkinides and the other executives and professional caregivers discussed the importance of increasing funding for Medicare Advantage in Puerto Rico. There has been significant cuts to federal funding in Puerto Rico for Medicare Advantage since 2011. Medicaid pays for a substantial portion of healthcare services provided on the island. If the Medicare system in Puerto Rico collapses, many residents would have to relocate to the States and pay three or four times more than what they’re paying now.