Palm Beach County to Expand Health Care for Uninsured

HelpingYouCare™ has received the following press release issued by the Palm Beach County, Florida Health Care District:

Contact: Robin Kish January 26, 2012
Administrator of Public Affairs
561.659.1270 ext 5828
HEALTH CARE DISTRICT TO EXPAND MEDICAL SERVICES
FOR UNINSURED IN PALM BEACH COUNTY

“Palm Springs, FL – The Health Care District of Palm Beach County is launching a new pilot program that will provide health care services for Palm Beach County residents who are currently not served by other health coverage programs. According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau report, approximately 265,000 or about 28% of Palm Beach County residents under the age of 64 lack medical insurance. Many of the recently uninsured cannot afford their COBRA payments to continue their coverage, yet do not qualify for other health coverage programs in order to receive needed medical services.

“Many people once they are uninsured do not necessarily become eligible for health coverage until they spend down a significant amount of their assets,” said Ronald J. Wiewora, MD, MPH, Health Care District Chief Executive Officer/Chief Medical Officer. “This stopgap program for the uninsured will allow that person who has high blood pressure, for example, to continue to receive medication while they are going through the eligibility process. This will be a nice addition to the programs that the Health Care District already offers the community.”

The Health Care District Board of Commissioners approved plans for the pilot program at its December 14th meeting. Through a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) process, the Health Care District selected three qualified vendors who will provide medical services within the vendors’ respective locations. The three responses were from Florida Community Health Centers’ Pahokee Center, FoundCare Health Center and Genesis Community Health, Inc. The cost of the new initiative will be approximately $1 million, which will come from Health Care District reserves, and will allow for 16,666 uninsured visits at a cost of $60 per medical visit. The program will begin in fiscal year 2011-2012 and will be evaluated after six months to determine its progress.

“We know more people are uninsured than ever before,” said Benjamin Frank, Esq., Chair of the Health Care District of Palm Beach County Board of Commissioners. “This new initiative, in collaboration with our community partners, is right in line with the Health Care District’s mission to ensure the delivery of quality health care services for Palm Beach County residents.”

Florida Community Health Centers’ Pahokee Center is a non-profit clinic located in Pahokee that provides comprehensive medical services to uninsured residents of western Palm Beach County. FoundCare is a non-
-more-
profit health center located in West Palm Beach. Since January 2009, the center has served over 6,500 uninsured patients. Genesis Community Health, Inc. is a non-profit medical facility located in Boynton Beach. Since opening in June 2010, Genesis has become the medical home for over 1,600 patients and is expected to serve over 4,000 medically underserved/uninsured residents. All three providers have integrated electronic medical records systems and capabilities that allow them to provide efficient medical services to needed patients. In addition, they have forged community partnerships through hospital agreements, university affiliations, and with the Palm Beach County Health Department, Project Access and the Ryan White program.

“This new funding will assist FoundCare Health Center to support some of the patient visits which are discounted on a sliding fee scale based on family income as FoundCare receives no federal funding,” said Susan Burwen, Chief Operating Officer, FoundCare Health Center.

“Genesis is grateful to be chosen to participate in this project with the Health Care District of Palm Beach County,” said DeAnna Warren, Executive Director of Genesis Community Health, Inc. “This project will allow Genesis to underwrite some of the costs associated with treating a large percentage of uninsured patients who normally qualify for our sliding fee scale.”

The Health Care District, along with five other organizations in Palm Beach County, funded a community health planning project that was overseen by consultants from Tripp Umbach, Inc., a market research and strategic planning consulting firm. The consultant’s results, presented during a joint meeting with the Board of County Commissioners in August 2011, contained four main recommendations for strengthening the safety net within Palm Beach County. One of the first recommendations stressed the need for Palm Beach County to define strategies to recommit to the primary care planning process and expand health care access to the uninsured by using existing assets and funding in innovative ways.

About the Health Care District:

The Health Care District of Palm Beach County provides health coverage programs for uninsured residents, a nationally recognized Trauma System, dedicated nurses in nearly 170 public schools, a pharmacy operation, a long-term skilled nursing and rehabilitation center, and acute care hospital services at Lakeside Medical Center, the county’s only public hospital, serving the rural western Palm Beach County communities along the southeastern shore of Lake Okeechobee.”

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This Event Announcement is provided as a public service by HelpingYouCare™.

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