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Aging and Disability Business Institute Visits Southeast Texas AAA

n4a's Aging and Disability Business Institute was on the road again last week, this time in south Texas. n4a's Beth Blair and Karol Tapias conducted a site visit to the Lower Rio Grande Valley Area Agency on Aging, which serves the southeastern Texas counties of Cameron, Hidalgo and Willacy bordering the Rio Grande and the Gulf of Mexico. The Lower Rio Grande Valley AAA is participating in a pilot program to engage health care entities as partners on benefits enrollment for Medicare beneficiaries. This pilot is funded by a partnership between n4a and NCOA through a grant from the Administration on Community Living.

Accompanied by two of the AAA's benefits counselors, May Martinez Bailey and Anna De Leon, Beth and Karol visited enrollment sites in Brownsville, Harlingen, Port Isabel and McAllen where they learned about many of the challenges facing older adults in the rural and urban communities, including transportation and misinformation about how to access vital benefits. Like many AAAs serving rural areas, staff from the Lower Rio Grande Valley Area Agency on Aging go to extra lengths to reach the most isolated older adults in these communities by using innovative outreach approaches. 
 
The group also met with a local Accountable Care Organization (ACO) that is partnering with the Lower Rio Grande Valley Area Agency on Aging to ensure that their members are enrolled in the Medicare Savings Program (MSP), the Low-Income Subsidy (LIS or Extra Help) and other benefits. The ACO emphasized the importance of this and similar partnerships in effectively addressing the social determinants of health of their members and reiterated the fact that they see the AAA as a key partner in their vision for the future.  
 
Our thanks to AAA Director Jose Gonzalez and Assistant Director Richard Flores for their gracious hospitality and enthusiasm in discussing the future of health care contracting for AAAs and sharing the unique aspects of the health care landscape in southeastern Texas with Business Institute staff. 
 
Want to get inspired by other community-based organizations (CBOs) who have innovated their way to success in health care collaborations? Visit the Aging and Disability Business Institute's website for resources and case studies!

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