Health

/

Health & Spirit

Community health centers caught in 'Washington's political dysfunction'

Steven Findlay, Kaiser Health News on

Published in Health & Fitness

Maria Soto, 72, her husband, Efren, 77, and their six adult children and 13 grandchildren all get care at Anderson. The elder Sotos, both now retired, have Medicare. The rest of the family has private insurance or are enrolled in Medi-Cal.

"The clinic plays a very big role in our lives," Maria Soto said. "We rely on it for all our regular care. I have no idea where we would go if it had to close down."

Across the country, Charles Allbaugh and Paula Tomko, who run Central Virginia Health Services, said they, too, have held off on hiring staff and expanding services at their network of 16 clinics serving 43,000 Virginians, pending the outcome of the funding debate.

"Congress is playing political football with us," said Tomko. "It's not the way things should run."

Jean Grutzius agreed. Her 97-year-old mother's care is provided by one of Tomko's clinics, near the small town of Bumpass, Va.

"Without the clinic, we'd be in real trouble," Grutzius said. Her mother, Eleanor Ciombor, is blind and deaf, in a wheelchair, and takes multiple medicines, including for a psychiatric condition. Ciombor, who lives with her daughter, is enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid. Her only income is $900 a month from Social Security.

--Sponsored Video--

"She gets great care (at the clinic,) and it costs us little," said Grutzius, who is 75 and also living on a fixed income. "I would not be able to pay for it otherwise. I am praying the center gets the funding they need."

The current political tussle follows a significant boost in health center funding under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Between 2010 and 2016, that funding propelled a 50 percent increase in the number of health center sites nationwide and a 33 percent increase in the number of patients served.

Health centers were also active in signing up people for the ACA's insurance marketplaces and for Medicaid in the states that expanded that program under the ACA.

Yet, despite growing partisan acrimony over the ACA, lawmakers voted overwhelmingly -- and in bipartisan agreement -- in 2015 to extend health center funding at the $3.6 billion-a-year level for two additional years.

...continued

swipe to next page
 

Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus
 

Social Connections

Comics

For Better or For Worse Take It From The Tinkersons Gary Varvel Luann Wumo Heathcliff