MPCA Book Club: Week 4

This week the MPCA book club read pages 138 through 180 (part 4 of 5) of former Senator Tom Daschle’s book Critical: What We Can Do About The Health Care Crisis. MPCA Communications Manager Dana Hughes provided this response:

In reading this section that focuses on what a reformed health care system should look like, I was struck by the fact that Community Health Centers are truly the model of care that exemplify the necessary characteristics:  providing affordable, quality health care that is accessible by all, and that focuses on prevention and treating chronic conditions through a collaborative approach.

As Community Health Centers have already demonstrated, providing this type of health care keeps people healthy in a cost-effective manner.  A study conducted by the Institute of Health Care Studies at Michigan State University found that Michigan Community Health Centers save $44.87 per Medicaid beneficiary per month likely attributed to prevention, chronic disease management, reduced pharmaceutical costs, and reduced emergency room utilization.  This equated to $42,009,580 in savings to the State of Michigan in 2007.

Daschle specifically names Community Health Centers as a key component of the reformed health care system, arguing for increasing the number of these health care homes.  He writes, “These clinics are a godsend for many people across the country, particularly those who live with a shortage of health care providers.”  It appears that President Obama concurs with Daschle and will support the expansion of Health Centers to promote access to health care for all Americans.  Upon his recent appointment of Dr. Mary Wakefield as administrator of HRSA, President Obama said, “Under her leadership we will be able to expand and improve the care provided at the Community Health Centers which serve millions of uninsured Americans and address severe provider shortages across the country.”

The reformed health care system that Daschle envisions also aligns with the Patient-Centered Medical Home model currently being piloted throughout the country and exemplified by Health Centers.  PCMH provides integrated, coordinated, continuous care that focuses on the whole person.  “Continuity of care is associated with greater use of preventive services and better control of many chronic illnesses, such as hypertension and diabetes.  It also leads to fewer hospitalizations and to lower overall health care costs” (page 161).

This is an exciting time for Health Centers to be a key player in health care reform and improving access to health care, and to be recognized as such by the President and Daschle is a testament to their value and evidence-based track record.

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