Chicagoâ€™s Access Community Health Network is one of many FQHCs enrolling the uninsured into Medicaid and other ACA-enabled health plans, panelist Tariq Butt, MD, said.
Often these community organizations help those who are least able to navigate the system.
Dr. Butt is vice president of medical affairs and a founding member of Access.
have extensive experience managing care for minorities, the poor, and the uninsured, population health isnâ€™t a new concept for them, Dr. Butt
are used to high volumes of patients with chronic conditions, and Access links them to specialists within a large network.
The organization has partnerships with local community hospitals and large academic centers.
Population-based medicine extends into every area of the patientâ€™s life.
Access helps resolve non-medical problems, such as writing a letter to get a patientâ€™s electricity turned back on, Dr. Butt
noted. â€œYou have to know the details of your patientsâ€™ personal lives, which are socioeconomic in addition to medical,â€� Dr. Butt said.
To physicians who might shy away from working in a FQHC, Dr. Butt
assures them that Access
protects its doctors against lawsuits. â€œIf a case ends up in federal court, itâ€™s very hard to see the physician personally because they are never named in a lawsuit,â€� Dr. Butt
Malpractice insurance is covered under the Federal Tort Claims Act. â€œThe FQHC sustains us,â€� he
The group treats predominately low-income patients and provides community outreach, resident training and clinical research in many locations throughout its network. â€œWe treat about 40,000 uninsured patients every year in our health centers,â€� says Tariq Butt, MD, vice president of health affairs at ACCESS and one of the key drivers behind the groupâ€™s FQHC status. â€œThatâ€™s almost 10% of all patients in the Chicago area.
When Dr. Butt joined ACCESS in 1989, it was not a FQHC. â€œBut even before we were a FQHC,â€� he notes, â€œwe never refused Medicaid and uninsured patients.
We have always had a sliding scale of payment for the uninsured.â€�
In October of 1991, ACCESS
first qualified as a FQHC â€œlook-alike,â€� meaning the group provided services consistent with all statutory, regulatory, and policy requirements that apply to Health Center Program grantees, but did not receive funding under section 330 of the Public Health Service Act.
In 1995, ACCESS
became fully FQHC-accredited.
At first, says Dr. Butt
, the group was very small. â€œBut then we hired physicians and executives; we partnered with local community hospitals and large academic centers, as well as developed regional health care delivery models so patients could receive quality health care within their own communities,â€� he
says. â€œMany organizations partnered with ACCESS
to run health centers more efficiently.â€�
For example, ACCESSâ€™ diverse branchesâ€"such as research and academiaâ€"in addition to its health centers, offer a variety of options for funding. â€œPlus,â€� continues Dr. Butt
, â€œwe are always reviewing our financial models and adding services.