Exploring Expansion into the Southern Tier
Expanding Health Care Coverage
December 10, 2012
Successful implementation of federal health reform will require expanded primary care access for the estimated 1.2 million New Yorkers who will gain health insurance coverage and for the 1.4 million who will likely remain uninsured.
Community health centers—ranging from a storefront free clinic to sophisticated operations running facilities across a multi-county region—are on the front lines of primary care. But many community health centers struggle with low margins, limited funding, and growing demand. When health reform is fully implemented, community health centers are expected to double capacity to serve 3 million New Yorkers.
In September 2012, NYSHealth issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) and awarded six grants to help community health centers take the practical steps needed to build capacity to better meet the growing need for primary care services. The RFP focused on supporting projects in five medically underserved regions—Southern Tier, North Country-Adirondacks, Capital District, Central Leatherstocking-Catskills, and Hudson Valley. This RFP followed an earlier initiative to support community health centers and expand primary care services in four other underserved regions.
Founded almost half a century ago, Greater Hudson Valley Family Health Center (GHVFHC) operates five sites of service in the region and serves about 18,000 patients annually. This NYSHealth grant supported a planning effort to explore opportunities for a possible health center site in a six-county region that stretches from the Western Catskills to the Eastern Southern Tier. The region has rising unemployment and uninsurance and a rapidly expanding elderly population. There are limited medical providers for primary care and no federally qualified health center sites within the region. GHVFHC planned to enlist stakeholders, collaborate on a community needs assessment, and assess the need for primary care, geriatric, dental, behavioral, and transportation services in the region.