AustinPUG Health

AustinPUG Health

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is largely viewed to be the most significant piece of health legislation to be signed into law since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid almost half a century ago. Under the Affordable Care Act, patients can’t be denied coverage by insurance companies due to their preexisting conditions, may stay on their parent’s health insurance until they age of 26, and enjoy a range of other new options.

health centres Community Health Centers Anticipate Patient Surplus

With the full effect of the ACA, healthcare may be made a viable option for many who previously couldn’t afford it. Community health centers already play a prominent role in the healthcare system, and often serve the underserved. Once the ACA takes full effect on January 1, 2014, many of these community health centers believe that they will be responsible for the needs of a large cohort of newly insured individuals. Budget constraints may complicate the ability of community health centers to meet this new demand.

New Challenges for Community Health Centers

In 2014, up to 10 million newly insured Americans will seek out a health care provider. Many of these individuals will be from poor or underserved areas of the country, and will seek health care at community health centers. Currently, there are 1,200 community health centers in the United States that receive federal funding in order to keep their doors open.

Community health centers serve 22 million Americans each year. In addition to offering traditional medical care to individuals below the poverty line, these centers often also act as advocates for social change in their community by providing nutrition counseling and other programs.

Lack of Funding May Compromise Community Health Initiatives

The primary issue facing community health centers next year concerns funding. Under the Affordable Care Act, community health centers were promised $11 billion in additional funding. To date, only $3 billion has been approved by congress and distributed to federally funded community health centers.

To complicate matters, base funding to community health centers was cut by 5 percent in March of 2013. These cuts took place as a result of the federal government sequester and have already limited the ability of community health centers to meet patient needs. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that the sequester cuts will lead to 3 million less patient visits to community health centers. Additionally, these cuts may result in 900,000 less patients being treated at community health centers.


Less Funding Equals Less Staffing and Expansion

Without the release of additional funding, community health centers believe they will have great difficulty serving patients and may lose many patients to other healthcare providers. Appointment wait times at many health centers are already a month or longer. These wait times may increase if additional federal funding isn’t provided, as it will become difficult to hire additional staff to meet demand. Expansion is also in jeopardy. Of over 400 applications to launch community health centers this past year, funding issues resulted in only 25 being approved for launch.

The success or failure of the Affordable Care Act rests on the ability of healthcare providers to offer services to patients. Community health centers will play a role in this process, and it is not yet clear if they will be funded well enough to do it successfully.

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About Author : Justin writes about recent developments in healthcare and personal fitness. When he’s not writing, Justin works full-time in medical billing services, and practice management for emergency care centers.
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