Don’t Cut Reimbursement Rate to FQHCs
We all realize that reducing costs in New Jersey is necessary, and that everyone must “share the pain.” There are those, however, who are already sharing the pain and have been for some time.
Federally qualified health care centers, known as FQHCs, have become the medical safety net that helps our uninsured and underinsured endure the “pain.” FQHCs in New Jersey served 450,000 patients in 2010; and with the state of our economy, that number is rapidly growing in 2011. Lakewood, the largest township in Ocean County, has had a population growth of more than 54 percent, and more than 50 percent of that population is at greater than 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
Many health centers, already dependent on government funding for their survival, operate on a limited margin or below the break even mark. The Center for Health Education, Medicine and Dentistry (CHEMED), a FQHC in Lakewood, has a two-year history of serving New Jersey’s uninsured and underinsured. CHEMED helps approximately 20,000 unique patients. Increasing numbers of these patients are uninsured, reflecting the continuing downturn in our economy. On the other hand, CHEMED creates more than 100 jobs.
The state budget is proposing to reduce the overall uncompensated reimbursement rate by 10 percent. This would cripple health centers like CHEMED who are seeing tremendous growth rates of uninsured patients. CHEMED strongly believes that FQHCs are best situated to become medical homes for these patients.
We offer the personalized, preventative care and coordinated medicine necessary to lower the cost to the patient and provide greater health care community. FQHCs also create an alternative to the local hospital emergency rooms. If FQHCs cannot support the growing numbers of patients in need, then more of these patients will show up in the emergency rooms; and hospitals will once again face the burden of their care. In New Jersey, where hospitals have already had to close and are facing dire financial straits this could precipitate an even greater health care crisis.
Please support protecting Federally Qualified Health Centers – safety net providers and medical homes for so many of New Jersey’s uninsured and underinsured. We ask that the State Budget Committee eliminate the proposed 10 percent reimbursement cut and allow for the same rate per visit as last year. Please let your government officials know how important FQHCs are to the community and ask them to eliminate the proposed cuts.
Dr. Dovid Friedman, CEO, Center for Health Education, Medicine and Dentistry (CHEMED)
Lakewood Resource and Referral Center (LRRC)
1771 Madison Avenue, Lakewood, NJ 08701
732-364-2144 Ext. 214; email@example.com