Community Clinics Face Larger Patient Load, Less Funding
California community clinics are struggling to meet an increase in patient demand as their funding declines, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Increase in Demand
As a result of the economic recession, an increasing number of people who have lost their jobs and health insurance are turning to community clinics for primary and preventive care.
Community clinics rely on public funds, private donations and government reimbursement programs, such as Medi-Cal. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
According to the Times, private donors are cutting back on donations, foundations are seeing a drop in revenue, and local and state government funding has been slashed.
AÂ recent study by the California HealthCare Foundation found that the state's community clinics were struggling financially prior to the recession.
The study found that more than two-thirds of community clinics were breaking even or running a deficit in 2006.
Melissa Schoen, a senior program officer at CHCF, said that community clinics' deficits are expected to worsen because newly unemployed and uninsured patients often do notÂ qualify for Medi-Cal or Medicare.
Nicole Lamoureux, executive director of the National Association of Free Clinics, said clinics are looking for new funding sources, recruiting more volunteers and triaging patients.
Economic Stimulus Relief?
Federal stimulus funding could provide some relief to the state's community clinics.Â
According to the California Primary Care Association, California clinics over the next two years will receive:
- More than $58 million in aid for the uninsured;
- $15 million to create new clinics; and
- $100 million to address capital infrastructure (Gorman, Los Angeles Times, 3/22).
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