Many Health Clinics Unprepared To Meet Demand Under ACA
Fewer than half of community health clinics in Los Angeles are prepared to treat an influx of patients who obtained health coverage under the Affordable Care Act -- a trend that could have statewide implications, according to a brief by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, the Los Angeles Times' "L.A. Now" reports (Karlamangla, "L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 5/21).
Background on Newly Insured
As of April 15, about 1.4 million California residents had enrolled in a plan through Covered California. Meanwhile, about 1.9 million residents enrolled in Medi-Cal as of March 31. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program (California Healthline, 5/20).
Role of Community Health Clinics
Under the ACA, community health clinics will be responsible for providing care to many low-income individuals, as well as those who are unable to obtain coverage through the law and remain uninsured, according to the brief.
According to researchers, community health clinics are affected by:
- The number of residents who remain uninsured;
- Safety-net funding; and
- Whether newly insured individuals will continue to seek care at the centers (UCLA Center for Health Policy Research policy brief, May 2014).
Details of Policy Brief
For the brief, UCLA researchers examined about 40 community health clinics in Los Angeles and rated the clinics on several factors, including:
- Implementation of new technology, such as electronic health records;
- Whether they were moving toward a medical home model;
- Whether they participate in managed care plans; and
- Quality improvements.
Researchers found that about 39% of the clinics were ready to provide care for patients who gained coverage under the ACA, while about 62% were partially ready to do so. However, many smaller clinics did not have the resources to meet the needs of newly insured residents ("L.A. Now," Los Angeles Times, 5/21).
Naderah Pourat, a UCLA professor of health services and lead author of the brief, said clinics must "expand beyond their traditional roles and responsibilities if they are going to effectively serve new populations" (UCLA Center for Health Policy Research release, 5/21).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.