Analysis Finds Quality of Care at Safety-Net Clinics Varies by Location
The quality of health care at safety-net community clinics in California and other states varies widely by their location, according to an analysis of 2011 federal data by Kaiser Health News, KHN/McClatchy reports (Galewitz, Kaiser Health News/McClatchy, 10/31).
Background on Clinics
The 1,250 federally funded not-for-profit clinics were created to treat low-income, uninsured or chronically-ill U.S. residents.
They currently serve more than 20 million individuals. Observers say they could serve an additional 10 million U.S. residents once the federal health 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 (California Healthline, 10/30).
The analysis found that centers in New England generally provided better care than clinics in the South and West.
The finding might be the result of higher rates of health insurance in New England because insured residents are more likely to seek care when they need it.
Centers with more insured individuals also receive more money and are able to hire case managers and other staff members.
According to the analysis, other factors that might affect health outcomes at the clinics included patients':
- Dietary habits;
- Income levels; and
- Racial and ethnic background (Kaiser Health News/McClatchy, 10/31).
Findings on California Clinics
According to the analysis:
- 75.40% of pregnant patients who sought care at California clinics received prenatal care in the first trimester;
- 70.04% of adult patients with diabetes who sought care at California clinics had their blood sugar under control;
- 65.42% of adult patients with hypertension who sought care at California clinics had their blood pressure under control;Â
- 63.10% of women who sought care at California clinics had at least one Pap test in the prior three years; and
- 56.13% of children who received care at California clinics receivedÂ 10 federally recommended immunizations byÂ age two.
The analysis also found that 5.70% of infants born at California clinics had low birth weights (Kaiser Health NewsÂ analysis, 10/31).
Anthony Wright -- executive director of Health Access California -- said, "We hope clinics can learn from this information [because] we need a safety net that survives and thrives."He attributed the difference in care quality at clinics to the fact that some facilities treat a large number of patients who lack insurance, speak different languages and are immigrants or homeless (Kaiser Health News/McClatchy, 10/31). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.