VNSNY CHOICE Health Plans has a new Board Member: Mark Godfrey recently joined the CHOICE Board of Directors as a Member Representative from SelectHealth. Mark has two decades’ experience advocating for the complex, comprehensive health care needs of people living with HIV—including himself. Since he was first diagnosed in 2000, he has worked with at-risk individuals and communities as a Consumer Representative on the Housing Works Executive Board Of Directors, a member of the NewYork-Presbyterian Consumer Advisory Board, a peer educator at Housing Works and, most recently, as a Certified Peer Advocate and Recovery coach for The Alliance for Positive Change.
“I’ve always been proactive and an idealist,” says Mark, who lives in Ozone Park, Queens. “I see things not the way they are, but the way they can be. I have experienced my own health care challenges, and I bring that firsthand perspective to the board.”
In his new role, Mark represents the voice of SelectHealth members, helping to ensure that the organization is doing everything it can to meet their holistic needs, including medical, behavioral and complex pharmaceutical care.
“Mark is a tremendous asset to the organization,” says Tom Dwyer, Senior Vice President of VNSNY CHOICE Health Plans. “He’s been working in the health care field for a long time as a certified peer coordinator whose job on a daily basis is to connect people with HIV to the care that they need and deserve. He lives our mission and challenges every day.”
Mark is a strong supporter of SelectHealth, a specialized Medicaid plan for people living with HIV, and finds it “right on target” in meeting his needs. The plan covers high quality medical care from a network of HIV specialists as well as housekeeping and transportation services; helps Mark and his fellow members manage medications and health care supplies; and offers incentives to keep at-risk individuals connected to care.
“I have come to rely on SelectHealth’s consistency and advocacy,” Mark says. “And I have always promoted the value of an incentive program like SelectHealth’s as a way to help members be part of their own care.”
Mark also has a keen interest in reducing health care disparities, and is eager to bring more diverse views and experiences onto the board. “My hope is to continue the conversation on inclusion, and bring an important perspective to the question of how we can continue to provide the best services for all communities,” he says—adding that the coronavirus pandemic has amplified the urgency of reducing entrenched disparities of care in minority communities.
“Mark’s views align with the quality goals and the diversity that we are focusing on,” says Hany Abdelaal, DO, President of VNSNY CHOICE Health Plans. “It’s always been part of VNSNY’s mission to care for vulnerable populations and address racial disparities. As a special needs plan, SelectHealth was created to meet needs that weren’t being addressed by other insurers. This involves helping people manage not only the disease, but the access to care disparities that exist in certain communities.”