Kristina Wharton Discusses Services Provided at Federally Qualified Health Centers

April 9, 2018

M. Kristina Wharton, MPH, of the Department of Global Health Management and Policy at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, talks about the services federally qualified centers provide, specifically how they help patients access medications.

M. Kristina Wharton, MPH, of the Department of Global Health Management and Policy at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, talks about the services federally qualified centers provide, specifically how they help patients access medications.

Transcript

What services do federally qualified health centers provide, and how do they help patients access prescription medicines?

They started out as a primary care safety net but they do take a nice holistic approach and branch out quickly into mental health services and dentistry and various health centers can specialize in with different service provision based on their patient population.

Another really cool fact about health centers is that about 51% of their governing body has to be patients and it has to be representative of the patient population that they serve. Which they take inventory with every year when they submit their grade report to HRSA [Health Resources and Services Administration]. They see who they are serving and see what their needs are and that has to get evaluated by their board. So, it’s really quite unique Every health center is a little bit different because they are serving patients based off that need and the agency that those patients have sitting on a governing body and telling the health center leadership what they need. They wind up looking a little different.

And how the 2 venues that we found for my research and how they provide access to prescription medications for uninsured people, specifically is the HRSA 340B program, which gets discounted drugs at a price by contacting HRSA for patients at health centers, as well as disproportionate share hospitals. We focus on the health centers, the primary care access, for either retail pharmacies or direct service provision health center can run a pharmacy itself. So, it’s especially more helpful in rural areas for a patient that is unable to access even a Walgreens.

Then also there’s the drug assistance programs which are the health centers have become very adept at utilizing the discounted drugs and free drugs that the pharmaceutical company manufacturers may provide directly to as kind of a good service to the world that they apply for and dual eligibility assistance for their patients and get access that way if they don’t have access through their insurance or through 340b program. So, both methods at the same time usually is what we found.