Community Clinics Face Increased Patient Load as Unemployment Rises
Health care experts predict that California's community clinics will face an increase in patients next year as more residents lose their health insurance, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.
A UCLA Center for Health Policy Research survey released last week found that one-fifth of all Californians under age 65 were without health insurance for all or part of 2007 (Abram, Los Angeles Daily News, 12/22). In addition, researchers predicted that the number of uninsured has likely grown in the past year because of rising unemployment (California Healthline, 12/15).
In fiscal year 2006-2007, the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles saw an additional 21,600 uninsured patients, up 10% from the previous year. Similar increases are expected next year as the state grapples with a $42 billion budget deficit over the next 18 months.
Louise McCarthy, vice president of governmental affairs for the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles, said, "There's not a very large infrastructure in place to handle the increasing need, even though providers will do everything they can to treat as many people as they can."
The problem is exacerbated by a decrease in Medi-Cal and private funding. Medi-Cal provides 34% of total clinic revenue and private donations make up 7% of clinics' revenue. Â Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program (Los Angeles Daily News, 12/22).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.