Thursday, December 10, 2009

Access to Care, Access to Funds

Great news that the President continues to roll out stimulus funding to the tune of $600 million for community health centers across the nation.

It's particularly nice to see the administration emphasize the importance of revamping and upgrading outdated electronic medical record (EMR) systems and to push for more demonstration projects on the "medical home" model, a model proven to reduce health and health care disparities for racial and ethnic minorities.

Ok, so what's missing?

Well, what's missing is stimulus funding for the great many community health centers out there who are not designated as Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC).

There are many valid reasons why a community health center would elect not to become an FQHC, not the least of which is that it allows the clinic to focus on serving the needs of low-income patients who do not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid, including many in the immigrant population.

For these centers, who serve the poorest of the poor, there is no stimulus funding.

If the health care bill passes without a provision for the care of immigrants, for example, these clinics will continue to face increasing demand and will be one of the only lines of defense between this underserved population and our local emergency rooms.

FHQC or not, all high-quality community health centers deserve equal access to stimulus fund competition.

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