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Influx of Medicaid providers needed for newly eligible
The Medicaid expansion will pose a major challenge in terms of where the newly insured will be able to receive care in 2014, according to Daniel R. Hawkins, senior vice president for public policy and research at the National Association of Community Health Centers in Washington, DC.
"To the credit of Congress, they anticipated that problem, and responded with a major expansion of the Community Health Centers program," says Mr. Hawkins.
The $11 billion provided in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will enable health centers to expand to serve another 20 million people by 2015, in addition to the over 20 million individuals they serve today, notes Mr. Hawkins.
Health centers are principally primary care medical, dental, and behavioral health homes, says Mr. Hawkins, which provide care to the country's underserved. "They will locate and expand in exactly the same communities where the estimated 16 million new Medicaid recipients live and work," he says. "That will be vitally important."
The single biggest challenge for the new and expanding health centers, says Mr. Hawkins, will be where to recruit the new clinical workforce needed to staff them. "This is where the National Health Service Corps comes in," he says.
Congress provided an additional $1.5 billion to the National Health Service Corps over the next five years, notes Mr. Hawkins. "That is enough to assist and place some 17,000 clinicians in underserved areas," he says.
The biggest strength of the National Health Service Corps, according to Mr. Hawkins, is that it assists only medical, dental, and behavioral health students who are focused on primary health care. "It only places them in underserved areas, exactly where they are most needed," he says.
Mr. Hawkins says that by partnering with a major academic institution, National Association of Community Health Centers helped to create one of the nation's newest dental schools and then one of its newest medical schools.
The A. T. Still School of Medicine in Mesa, AZ, takes in 100 students each year, he notes, and trains them in community health centers. "We are also partnering with schools to train more nurse practitioners and physician assistants," reports Mr. Hawkins. "This is another strategy being deployed by health centers that of 'training our own.'"
Contact Mr. Hawkins at (202) 296-0131 or firstname.lastname@example.org.