Today the Department of Health and Human Services announced New Access Point grants that will expand care to nearly 650,000 people in 33 states and two U.S. Territories [see news release]. In making the announcement in North Carolina Secretary Burwell. said,“Health centers are keystones of the communities they serve. Today’s awards will enable more individuals and families to have access to the affordable, quality health care that health centers provide. That includes the preventive and primary care services that will keep them healthy.”
The Secretary made the announcement at the Charlotte Community Health Clinic, one of eight North Carolina health centers receiving a total of $6 million through the Affordable Care Act, according to a report in the Charlotte Observer.
The announcement comes as 62 million people still struggle with little or no access to a primary care provider– and many of them do have insurance, just no place to go for care. The announcement by HHS also comes on the heels of new report from the American College of Emergency Physicians that ER doctors are busier than ever due to a lack of primary care providers and a surge in the newly insured. USA Today reports that a root cause is “the nation’s long-standing shortage of primary care doctors–projected by the federal government to exceed 20,000 doctors by 2020–[and that] some physicians won’t accept Medicaid because of its low reimbursement rates. That leaves many patients who can’t find a primary care doctor to turn to the ER.”
NACHC also underscored the need for more primary care services in a statement posted today, with Senior Vice President for Policy and Research Dan Hawkins mentioning the “roughly 500 additional applications pending from communities desperately in need of health care services.”