Health Center News, Uncategorized

Learning Why Access to Care is Vital

By Micah Clemens

With all of the recent debate about the Supreme Court’s ruling to uphold the Affordable Care Act, so much media attention focused on provisions that will expand coverage for uninsured Americans, but what got lost in the fray is equally important provisions to increase access to care. Increased access to care not only means improved health outcomes for millions of more Americans, but great cost savings on the entire system.

In New Jersey, the CMO and CEO of a Community Health Center took to their local newspaper to lay out the access issue, but with a local angle of how their health center fits into it. New Jersey is one of many states currently debating the future of Medicaid expansion within the state, and pieces like these help provide context for policymakers and educate the public. The letter was written by Chief Medical Officer Dr. Cheryl Bettigole, MD, MPH , and President and CEO Gil Walter of CompleteCare Health Network in Bridgeton.

They addressed how the ACA benefits New Jerseyans now, not just the provisions that come into effect in 2014 or 2015:

[The ACA] has increased funding to community health centers including New Jersey’s CompleteCare Health Network and provides additional funding to the National Health Service Corps program, which helps community health centers to attract highly qualified physicians and nurse practitioners through loan repayment programs.

They also spell out in simple math the number of patients in their state who would benefit from preventative care if Medicaid is expanded.

If New Jersey opts to participate in the Medicaid expansion, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that nearly 300,000 people would gain coverage, a 38.1-percent increase in enrollment at the cost of a 1.2-percent increase in state Medicaid spending. This means 300,000 few[er] people skipping preventive care and care for chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure because of cost.

Educating the public about the value of access to care is critical to building support for health centers– and a good place to start is at your local press outlet.  As a resource NACHC offers templates for Op-Eds and Letters to the Editor. Be sure to check out our templates that coincide with National Health Center Week here.