Affordable Care Act Helps Improve Access to High Quality, Coordinated Care

Today, HHS announced that 219 community health centers received another $128.6 million to help them expand their reach, supporting approximately 5,460 jobs and serve 1.25 million additional patients. 

Today’s announcement is one in a series of efforts to make our community health centers stronger. Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, community health centers around the country have received new resources to expand capacity and improve care for their patients. 

At the Erie Family Health Center in Chicago, these new resources are helping staff better monitor patients’ care,  follow up with patients and ensure they get the care they need that can stop health problems before they start.  For example: 

One of the health center’s patients is a 52 year old man with diabetes. At his last appointment, his diabetes numbers were clearly trending in the wrong direction. When he missed his follow-up appointment, the health center knew and was able to reach out to him because of its computer systems reminds the staff to contact patients who have missed appointments or who have lab results showing poorly controlled diabetes.  

On the day of his new follow-up appointment, a medical assistant rapidly checked his blood sugar right in the exam room and entered the data into the patient’s electronic medical record. This gave the doctor and patient more time to review how things are going and discuss strategies for getting his numbers under control. 

During the course of his care at the health center, his blood sugar reading improved by a full point and a half. For every one point improvement he has significantly reduced his risk of blindness and kidney failure from diabetes. 

Community health centers across the nation are leveraging improved access to community-based health care services and health information technology through the Affordable Care Act to help patients just like this one. This work is making a difference. In just two years, Erie Family Health Center reduced the number of patients with uncontrolled diabetes by 6 percent, a clinically significant improvement in care.  

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, millions more Americans will get better health care in the communities they call home. HHS Secretary Sebelius has held living room discussions with people around the country to discuss health care. During the discussions, providers have had the chance to speak about how the Affordable Care Act is benefiting their communities. This video is a snapshot of these conversations:

Jeanne Lambrew is Deputy Assistant to the President for Health Policy
Related Topics: Economy, Health Care