Can Community Health Centers Compete with Private Practices?

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, a spotlight has been directed towards community health centers and their capability to serve their future influx of patients. The ACA aims to improve the current health care system by increasing access to health care coverage for all Americans. To make this possible, the ACA largely relies on community health centers to provide services to previously uninsured patients.

Are Community Health Centers capable of taking on this new load

According to the study of Randall Stafford, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, and colleagues at UCS, community health physicians performed just as well as their private practice counterpart. “If community health centers are going to be taking up some of the new demand [due to the ACA], we are confident that they’re giving relatively good care,” noted Stafford.

After evaluating physician’s adherence to professional and federal health guidelines, the study found that community physicians followed recommendations at a significantly higher percentage rate. Researchers also found that health center physicians performed better on additional measures such as avoiding administering drugs like benzodiazepine to patients, which has serious long-term side effects. Overall, the study concluded that community health centers demonstrated equal, if not better, quality health care performance than private practices, despite serving patients with more chronic diseases and socioeconomic complexity.

What is Tri-City Health Center’s role with the ACA?

The goal of the ACA is to extend health insurance coverage to 32 million currently uninsured Americans by the year 2019. The results will not be seen overnight, but Tri-City Health Center (TCHC) and all community health centers will gradually care for a larger volume of patients. It is vital for TCHC to have the resources necessary to treat current and new patients.

TCHC takes pride in its mission of providing quality health care service to underserved and uninsured individuals and families. Currently 42.4% of our patient population is insured under Medi-Cal and the numbers are expected to grow with new patients insured under the ACA.

TCHC will continue to accommodate all of our patients and prepare to serve the future influx of new patients. We need the help of you and every health center advocate to deliver the message about the importance of keeping and receiving future funding towards community health centers.

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