What do Federally Qualified Health Centers do? by Hal James   hal@cctaxpayers.com

     I heard a man brag on Fox News recently that, although he has not worked since 1987, he has first class health care.  How can that be?
     He continued by saying he gets health services from a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), so I wondered what FQHCs do.  There are 2 of them in Craven County, so I checked out what they say about themselves, and found they provide “comprehensive primary and preventive care” to residents of all ages “regardless of their ability to pay.”  Services listed include “annual wellness exams, sick visits, immunizations, lab services, and chronic disease management.”
     They say they’ll coordinate appointments with other health care providers, including specialists, and “provide you with tools and education that can help manage your care at home.”  Judging by the billboard pictured above, they must be formidable competition for private medical practices.  They also compete with the private sector when it comes to employing a work force.  These tax dollar supported health agencies are currently advertising for clinical charge nurses, RNs for postop recovery, a unit manager for an ER, and for behavioral health specialists.
     I wondered how wide-spread this is and found a list of “NC Healthcare Safety Net Providers” published by the NC Institute of Medicine.  There are 142 pages, and each page contains about 25 such providers.  That makes the grand total approximately 3,550 in NC alone.
    If someone works hard all his or her life, shouldn’t he or she get to keep the fruits of that lifetime of labor instead of being forced to pay for “excellent health care” for a nere-do-well?

One Response to What do Federally Qualified Health Centers do? by Hal James   hal@cctaxpayers.com

  1. Scott Harrelson says:

    Mr. James, The Craven County Health Department has been providing primary care services for years. We applied for the federal FQHC funding because we saw that we were not going to be able to meet the local demand without additional resources. The fastest growing segment of our primary care patient population is uninsured and underinsured adults which I assure you no other medical providers in the area are equipped to deal with. That is why this patient population was clogging the local ER and running up high unpaid visits to our local hospital. Now we have been able to take roughly 5,000 of the neediest people in our area and get them stabilized and out of the ER. An average ER visits cost about $1,200, our average clinic visit ranges between $15-$50. Most of our patients do work, in cafeterias, auto parts stores etc.., they just don’t have good health coverage. We have been able treat people with hypertension, diabetes and cancers through the FQHC. We have been able to assist them with outside programs to get their chronic disease medication for high cholesterol, hypertension etc.. We have expanded services while reducing county appropriation by about a third over the past 8 years.

    The private sector is not equipped to deal with a lot of uninsured and underinsured patients. I don’t know why anyone would think that they would be, they aren’t designed to do so. These programs were supported by President Reagan and President Busch because they are a good way to ensure access to care for people that would otherwise fall through the cracks.

    Scott Harrelson, MPA
    Craven County Health Director

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