M. Kristina Wharton on the Role of Federally Qualified Health Centers

March 4, 2018

Federally qualified health centers pay an important role in providing primary care and preventive services for patients who may have trouble accessing this care because of their insurance status, explained M. Kristina Wharton, MPH, of the Department of Global Health Management and Policy at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

Federally qualified health centers pay an important role in providing primary care and preventive services for patients who may have trouble accessing this care because of their insurance status, explained M. Kristina Wharton, MPH, of the Department of Global Health Management and Policy at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

Transcript

What role do federally qualified health centers play, and why are they important for uninsured and underinsured patients?

Federally qualified health centers, it’s a program that’s been around since the Johnson administration, so they’ve been around for a while now, and they always play an important role in safety net provision for primary care as well as for other services, mental health services, dental services, and various different special programs. Particularly for the uninsured, one of the grant stipulations, [Health Resources and Services Administration], is that they provide care regardless of a patient’s ability to pay and have a sliding-fee scale based on the person’s income and also take Medicaid, that’s an important qualification, too.

So, throughout these decades that the health center program has been around, they’ve served these places providing primary care and preventative services that may not be accessible for somebody without insurance. It’s a very important role and additionally, they are intentionally situated in medically underserved areas so that could be an urban area or rural area or somewhere with a special needs population so people that are already marginalized by the insurance health system because of their insurance status or because of other factors. They are experiencing homelessness, or they are a migrant farm worker, or other qualifying characteristics, they are going to receive more appropriate services in a way that are affordable and also accessible to them otherwise.