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Health Centers are the Focus at a Recent Briefing on Capitol Hill

photo 5Community Health Centers were the focus of a recent Capitol Hill briefing launched by the Alliance for Health Reform. The topic was the challenges and opportunities of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The briefing “Health Centers at the Launch of the Coverage Expansion” included panelists: Michelle Proser, NACHC ‘s Research Director;  Jordan Valley Health Center (Springfield, MO) President Brooks Miller; Heart City Health Center (Elkhart, IN) CEO Vernita Todd and Leighton Ku, Director of the Center for Health Policy Research at George Washington University.

The event revealed new findings from the Commonwealth Fund’s 2013 Survey of FQHCs. Some highlights include:

  • Health centers anticipated a shortage of workforce to meet the needs of the expected influx of newly covered patients. This included a shortage of physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants. However, the Commonwealth Fund report noted that this is not a new concern for health centers and a recent report by NACHC showed 62 million people have little or no access to primary care.
  • Health centers have a hard time finding bilingual providers and those in rural areas have a harder time recruiting bilingual staff over those in urban settings.
  • Health centers have, and continue to prepare for, health system changes and the influx of new patients, including integrating new behavioral health, hiring new clinical staff and increasing IT capacity. 93 percent of health centers surveyed now have an EHR system, an increase of 133 percent from 2009.

The panelists all underscored the critical need for access to care.

“Insurance coverage is not enough to guarantee access to care. There will always be uninsured patients,” said  Michelle Proser.

If you missed the briefing you can watch it here.