Federally funded not-for-profit community clinics in several states, including California, are preparing for new challenges when the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented in 2014 and millions of additional U.S. residents gain health insurance, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Background on Clinics
The 1,250 safety-net facilities were created to treat low-income, uninsured or chronically ill U.S. residents.
Besides treatment, the clinics offer additional services, such as transportation to appointments and housing assistance.
They currently serve more than 20 million individuals. Observers say they could serve an additional 10 million U.S. residents once the reform law is fully implemented.
The federal government is investing $11 billion to increase the clinics' capacity and help address doctor shortages in low-income communities.
Los Angeles Clinic Details
Fifty-five percent of the patients at the Los-Angeles based To Help Everyone Clinic are uninsured, while 33% are beneficiaries of Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program.
Rise Phillips, president and CEO of T.H.E. Clinic, said the facility already has seen a more than 50% increase in patients since 2008 and expects the number to grow by an additional 25% in 2013.
The clinic is making several changes to prepare for treating additional patients, such as:
- Investing in an electronic health record system;
- Planning a new satellite office; and
Details of Challenges
Observers say T.H.E. Clinic and similar facilities face various challenges, including:
- Attracting and retaining physicians while offering comparatively low pay;
- Competing for newly insured patients; and
- Motivating patients to change unhealthy behaviors, show up to appointments and take medications (Gorman, Los Angeles Times, 10/28).