Community health centers partner for short- and long-term health

[ Posted on August 7th, 2017 by Center Communications | No Comments » ]
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Steven P. Wallace and Maria-Elena Young during Q&A

Partnerships that community health centers form with various groups can create efficiencies and new services that improve the local safety net, according to the July UCLA Center for Health Policy Research seminar.

The seminar was based on recent findings from the latest Center policy brief Partnership Strategies of Community Health Centers: Building Capacity in Good Times and Bad.

Community health centers (CHCs) are the main providers of health care to 25 million low-income and uninsured people in the U.S. in 2015, according National Association of Community Health Centers. Nearly half are covered by the government’s Medicaid program.

Maria-Elena Young, a graduate student researcher at the Center and the study’s lead author, outlined the keys to successful partnerships, and used examples of partnerships in Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles and New York to illustrate how combining forces strengthened health systems city-, county- and state-wide.

“It is really critical (for community health centers) to have allies at all levels of policy,” said Young.

Improvements and innovations included streamlining patient referrals to a hospital, hiring a psychologist position to share among a group of CHCs, and working with advocacy groups and legislators to change health policy.

Associate Center Director Steven P. Wallace,  a co-author of the policy, said the partnerships are practical and prescient, given the continuing battle over the Affordable Care Act and the current administration’s focus on cutting back Medicaid funding.

“In good times, or in a ‘doomsday’ scenario, these partnerships are important to stabilize community health centers,” Wallace said. “What we’ve seen across these four different states is more than planning, it’s action.”

Watch the recorded seminar here.

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