On Monday, an article posted on WTHR-Channel 13′s health section of their website was titled…
In the article, data from a U.S. National Health Interview Survey showed that 16% of Medicaid beneficiaries had one or more barriers to primary care. It was also found that 40% of Medicaid patients used the emergency room, as compared to 18% of those with private insurance.
There is no doubt that there are barriers to care for Medicaid patients. Many of these individuals live in medically underserved areas (to learn how medically underserved areas are determined click here), but basically an MUA means that the ratio of primary care doctors per 1,000 people is very low.
Health Centers as an answer.
..at least 25% of U.S. counties in greatest need do not have a health center.
Community health centers are an answer to the complex problem offered in the article posted by WTHR. “Health centers are required to be open to all residents regardless of ability to pay or insurance status, target medically underserved areas, offer comprehensive primary care services, and be directed by a local patient-majority governing board.”
Not only do health centers eliminate barriers of access for patients no matter what your insurance status, but they have a proven record of reducing the amount of emergency room visits by Medicaid beneficiaries – “Medicaid beneficiaries relying on health centers for usual care in four states are 19% less likely to use the emergency department for unnecessary visits and 11% less likely to be hospitalized compared to beneficiaries relying on other providers.”
(Cost Effectiveness of Care Provided at Health Centers)
As Indiana’s largest federally qualified health center, our health centers are the medical home for over 50,000 Hoosiers. We have posted about the need for health center expansion – here, here and here – and HealthNet has enjoyed the expansion of three health centers in the past year along with the opening of a new center on the Far Eastside of Indy. But, as noted above, the need for greater access to health care for all residents is increasing.
Health centers do eliminate barriers for patients who need a source of quality primary care, but they also are one of the most cost effective forms of health care available.
- Health centers’ average cost runs a dollar less per patient per day compared to all physician settings ($1.67 vs. $2.64).
- Health centers save the health care system about $24 billion annually
We need your help..
Health center expansion is essential to reduce these barriers as well as costs on the entire health care system.
So for the next month, we will be collecting petition signatures to show local support for community health centers nationwide. Each signature counts, and if we collect enough, then we will be able to present the petition along with all of the signatures to our legislators when they are home during the first week in May.
1) Sign the petition.
2) Tweet this – “@WTHRcom #medicaid patients go to ER more often except for those who use community health centers! http://bit.ly/GQ0UUG #SaveCHCs”
3) LIKE us on Facebook to keep up with more updates on our Petition Drive!