Advancing Primary Care
December 6, 2018
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Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed in 2010, nearly 1 million New Yorkers have gained health care coverage—requiring expanded primary care capacity across the State both to care for the newly insured and to ensure a strong safety net for those who remain uninsured.
Community health centers (CHCs) were a cornerstone of the ACA’s plan to develop primary care capacity, but as the new health care law went into effect, many CHCs were already laboring with low margins and limited funding. The growing demand expected under the roll-out of the ACA would add to these struggles if CHCs did not take measures to grow their services, staff, or physical capacity.
This NYSHealth report takes a look at a funding initiative to support CHCs in New York State to take practical steps to care for more patients, expand existing sites, establish new sites, and/or increase the range of services provided, including behavioral health, dental, optometry, and pharmacy. NYSHealth issued two Requests for Proposals (RFPs), “Promoting and Managing Growth at Primary Care Centers,” making grants of up to $100,000 available to federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), FQHC look-alikes (organizations that meet all of the requirements for, but do not yet receive, federal grant funding), and comprehensive diagnostic and treatment centers in medically underserved regions of the State. Through both RFPs, NYSHealth awarded 16 grants totaling $1.6 million to CHCs statewide to expand the volume or scope of services to serve more patients. As a result, an additional 57,892 patients were reached in 2016 as compared with 2012—a 123% increase in the number of patients served by these CHCs across the State.