Health Center News

Demand for Care and the Funding Cliff

We’ve been writing a lot about the demand for primary care lately.  One thing we haven’t mentioned the segment of the population who gained access to insurance with bronze exchange plans that may come with out-of-pocket costs.  As reported earlier in Modern Healthcare , some people who purchased these plans  have struggled to pay for care at Community Health Centers.  That, in turn, puts further strain on health centers’ financial health.  Yes, it’s about dedication not dollars at health centers, but when the demand for primary care continues to climb it’s important to have a sound financial footing to continue to meet the need.

As California Healthline noted in a follow up article to the Modern Healthcare story, “CHCs receive federal funding and are not allowed to refuse care to patients if they are unable to pay. About 20% of the 7.3 million individuals who purchased coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanged enrolled in bronze plans, which tend to have low premiums but higher out-of-pocket costs, including coinsurance, copayments and deductibles of up to $5,500 per person. In addition, individuals enrolled in bronze plans do not qualify for federal cost-sharing subsidies, which are available to those with silver plans.”

We’ve also noted in a previous post on this blog  estimates are that the demand for primary care is expected to climb by as much as 14 percent as the newly insured gain access to care.

The good news is that there is a broad coalition of Members of Congress who are now paying attention to the looming problem of the funding cliff.  Bipartisan lawmakers in the House and Senate have sent letters to the Congressional leadership calling for action on the funding cliff [see press release].  In the House, 250 members signed on to the letter, addressed to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), while in the Senate, 66 Senators added their name to the letter addressed to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Stay tuned for more developments on this story.