With the full transition to BAYOU HEALTH in the New Orleans and Northshore regions just two and a half weeks away, the Department of Health is working diligently to ensure that every eligible Medicaid and LaCHIP recipient has an opportunity to choose a Health Plan.

"This week, we have seen the highest call volumes to date on the enrollment hotline as we topped the 35,000 mark for the number of recipients who have chosen their own Health Plans," LDH Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein said. "We're excited that we've had such an overwhelming response, and are making adjustments to accommodate the demand as more people are engaging in this critical decision."

To respond to the increased call times, LDH and MAXIMUS, the company the State has contracted with to handle the enrollment process for recipients, are working together to extend hotline hours, add Saturday call hours, train additional specialists and further streamline the choice process.  

MAXIMUS staff operate 1-855-BAYOU-4U (1-855-229-6848), the number recipients can call to speak to an enrollment specialist and select a Health Plan for their families. MAXIMUS announced today that it will have the hotline open on Monday, Jan. 16 during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., and will make enrollment specialists available from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. on weekdays beginning Tuesday, Jan. 17, to assist recipients. Previously, agents were available from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. on weekdays. MAXIMUS is also adding Saturday call times, so recipients can call 1-855-BAYOU-4U from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Saturdays to reach an agent starting immediately.

In addition to expanded customer contact center hours, MAXIMUS is in the process of adding more enrollment agents to prepare for higher call volumes as enrollment gets under way in the second and third regions of the state to phase in. All eligible Medicaid and LaCHIP recipients will be transitioned to BAYOU HEALTH by June 1.

Recipients also have the option to use the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system through 1-855-BAYOU-4U and follow the automated cues to enroll in a Health Plan at any time of the day, or they can go online to BAYOUHEALTH.com to enroll. In addition, Medicaid staff and outreach organizations have scheduled numerous interactive events to give participants a chance to speak with staff in person and learn about their available options and what they need to consider when selecting a Health Plan for their families. See the outreach events calendar to find an activity close to you.

Next week, MAXIMUS staff will begin assigning eligible recipients in the New Orleans and Northshore areas who have not yet selected a Health Plan. Once recipients are assigned, they will receive a letter notifying them of the plan to which they are assigned, including information about the services available through that plan. Recipients have 90 days from the time they are assigned to contact the enrollment staff and select another Health Plan.

"We want to reassure recipients that assignment to a plan does not end their enrollment options," said BAYOU HEALTH Director Ruth Kennedy. "If you are assigned, look over the material from your Health Plan. If you do not feel that plan is a good fit for your family, call 1-855-BAYOU-4U and have an enrollment agent assist you in finding the plan that is a good fit."

Following the initial implementation period, BAYOU HEALTH members will have an annual enrollment period, similar to those offered through commercial insurance companies, in which they can change plans. Recipients can change their Health Plans at any time if they have a good reason to do so.

BAYOU HEALTH is the state's new approach to delivering and financing health care for nearly 900,000 Medicaid and LaCHIP recipients. Under BAYOU HEALTH, LDH has contracted with five private Health Plans responsible for coordinating and managing the care of their members to improve health outcomes while controlling costs in the program.

For the latest information about BAYOU HEALTH, please visit www.MakingMedicaidBetter.com or the enrollment website, www.bayouhealth.com.

The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow LDH's blog, Twitter account and Facebook.