By: Beau Boughamer
Bay Windows — New England’s largest GLBT newspaper, based in Boston — ran an op-ed by Fenway Health CEO Dr. Stephen Boswell that recounted former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s recent visit and called for a greater emphasis on access in the health reform discussion.
Expanding health care coverage should go hand-in-hand with expanding American’s choices in terms of where they can receive care. Under the present system, some Americans are forced to wait months to see a doctor and others end up clogging up hospital emergency rooms, waiting to be seen for routine ailments.
“Access Granted: The Primary Care Payoff,” a report issued by NACHC and the Robert Graham Center, shows substantial economic benefit and systemic cost savings associated with health center expansion. The report estimates that in 2019, such expansion could lead to $80 billion in overall health care costs savings as more patients are seen in health centers, leading to reduced hospitalization and emergency room use and lower third-party insurance expenditures. Health center expansion would also mean the creation of new, high-quality jobs, and increased economic activity in some of the hardest hit communities in the nation.
While there is no magical remedy that is going to solve the American health care crisis overnight, a thoughtful and comprehensive approach to health care reform can lead to lower health care costs and increased access to care for the people who need it most. Expanding health care coverage and enhancing the ability of the nation’s health centers to provide care should be a part of this approach.