HAAM gets funding boost from Central Health to enroll musicians of color in health coverage

Local violinist Shawn LeSure
Local violinist Shawn LeSure plays for the public outside of a North Austin Randall's in April. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)

Local violinist Shawn LeSure plays for the public outside of a North Austin Randall's in April. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)

Days ahead of open enrollment beginning in the health care marketplace, Travis County’s health care district and the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians struck a deal to secure increased health care coverage for the city’s musicians of color.

The Central Health board of managers voted Oct. 28 to accept HAAM’s proposal to expand its outreach efforts to musicians of color in the Austin area. Because of the vote, an additional $640,000 is now earmarked to fund HAAM’s efforts. Those funds are being included in the annual budget of Sendero Health Plans, a nonprofit health care insurer funded by Central Health.

The additional $640,000 in Sendero’s budget was included after a Central Health board vote in late September, but the funding was contingent on board approval of a comprehensive inclusion plan from HAAM, according to Central Health documents. HAAM will use the funds to enroll approximately 400 local musicians on a Sendero Silver Plan in 2021.

“We need more people in care during these hard times. ... We’re on crunch time,” Central Health Manager Maram Museitif said before the Oct. 28 vote.

In a five-page proposal submitted to Central Health, HAAM stated it is expanding its outreach program to connect with more musicians of color in the Austin area. To reach these ends, the nonprofit musician collective will review and develop new literature around health care access and maintain partnerships with leaders and musicians in communities of color, according to the proposal.


HAAM Chief Operating Officer Rachel Hanss Blair told Central Health managers that the group had recently completed 500 personal phone calls for awareness outreach specifically targeted toward musicians of color.

“To ensure as many musicians of color are insured by our program ... we have expanded our targeted efforts to broaden our reach,” Blair said.
By Iain Oldman
Iain Oldman joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after spending two years in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he covered Pittsburgh City Council. His byline has appeared in PublicSource, WESA-FM and Scranton-Times Tribune. Iain worked as the reporter for Community Impact Newspaper's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition and is now working as the editor for the Northwest Austin edition.