(Host) The Plainfield Health Center has become the 7th health care facility in the state to win approval as a federal qualified health center.
Health care officials believe this program offers the cost effective way to provide universal coverage to all Vermonters.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.
(Kinzel) There are a number of criteria that must be met in order for a health care facility to be approved as a federal qualified health center.
The facility must make all of its services available to patients based on an individual’s ability to pay, they must provide comprehensive care, they must be run by local community boards, and they must be located in a high need region of the state.
There are a number of financial advantages for the centers that qualify. They receive higher reimbursement rates for Medicaid and Medicare, they’re able purchase prescription drugs at a much lower cost for their patients, and they receive additional funds if they expand their services.
Dr. John Matthews has been the director of the Plainfield Health Center for almost 30 years. He says his facility, along with similar centers across the state, play a key role in providing services to a wide range of Vermonters:
(Mathews) “There’s no question that it’s been shown that the community health center model ends up being cost effective and available to everybody. So there’s some physicians who won’t take Medicaid patients or they’ll only take patients who are already their patients who happen to get on Medicaid. There are some that limit their Medicare traffic so to speak because of the problems that are associated with reimbursement under those programs. Community health centers take everybody – insured, Medicaid Medicare uninsured and really make an effort to provide every one of them with the same good care.”
(Kinzel) Congressman Bernie Sanders has been a strong supporter of these centers. He told a group of health care officials at the Plainfield Center on Wednesday that this program is a critical part of the state’s overall health care system:
(Sanders) “With federal money what they do is they provide health care to every man, woman and child in the area regardless of income based on a sliding scale. So you have a lot of working people who are making 20 – 25 thousand dollars- a-year who can’t afford health care. They can walk into wonderful facilities like this and say, ok I need health care’ and a sliding scale is worked out.”
(Kinzel) Sanders says he supports an expansion of the federal health center program because these facilities also provide important dental care and mental health services for their patients.
The Plainfield Health Center has just embarked on a new capital campaign – it hopes to double the size of its facility in the coming year.
For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier