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Community Health Centers seek help from state to fight Coronavirus

News release, March 12, 2020

Funds for testing, changes in telemedicine policies urgently needed

CONTACT: LaShannon Spencer, Chief Executive Officer, CHCA 501.517.0842, lspencer@chc Seth Blomeley, Communications and Policy Director, CHCA 501.492.8388, sblomeley@chc-ar.orgCommunity

Health Centers (CHCs) provide high quality, cost-effective, patient-centered care to vulnerable populations in every corner of our state, especially in rural communities. In 2019, we saw more than 220,000 patients across Arkansas.

Given the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, CHCs have an urgent need as we seek to proactively stem this public health crisis, says LaShannon Spencer, Chief Executive Officer of the Community Health Centers of Arkansas.

Our request is two-fold:

1) We are asking the state to subsidize the cost of individual tests undergone at CHCs to detect for the Coronavirus. Such assistance is especially important for our most vulnerable population (seniors and those with other underlying health issues who make them more susceptible to the disease). Part of the mission of CHCs is to give medical care to those without insurance or financial means to pay. But our resources are limited, and the Coronavirus pandemic threatens to overwhelm our infrastructure. 2) CHCs are requesting that insurance carriers reimburse ALL CHC clinical locations for telemedicine consultations. Currently, telemedicine reimbursements are restricted to rural areas (such as Mount Ida, DeQueen, and Mena). However, insurance carriers do NOT reimburse for visits to sites in urban areas, such as Hot Springs or Little Rock.

Why will this telemedicine billing change help fight Coronavirus? First, those displaying symptoms that indicate possible Coronavirus infection could be screened before they show up a clinic unannounced. This adjustment would help avoid the chances of a much greater number of infections and community panic. CHC staff need the ability to refer such patients to the most appropriate treatment location as efficiently and safely as possible. Secondly, people in desperate need of care with unrelated issues may be scared to physically visit their provider out of fear of being exposed to Coronavirus. A telemedicine consultation will get these patients, whose illnesses may make them more susceptible to the Coronavirus, the medical help they need while reducing their risk of exposure.

Taking a proactive stance will help reduce the future economic impact this pandemic could have on many of our families, especially those who live paycheck to paycheck. CHCs across the state have coordinated planning efforts to assist staff and at-risk patients during this trying time. We’re leaders on the front lines of primary care. In many cases, we are the only medical providers in rural areas and are best positioned to offer testing for the most vulnerable patients. CHCs can more efficiently screen patients with possible symptoms before they overwhelm hospitals requiring even costlier services that the state would be forced to fund. CHCs have designated rooms and providers to assist patients when they arrive into their doors. We are working with our contracted labs to conduct the tests. Our goal is to provide the best possible care where for-profit medical providers avoid. We pride ourselves in serving all segments of society. In Arkansas, CHCs serve 1 in 7 Medicaid beneficiaries, almost 1 in 3 individuals in poverty, and 1 in 5 low-income, uninsured persons. Of our total patient payer mix, 39% is Medicaid, 15% Medicare, 28% private insurance, and 18% self-pay. Community Health Centers of Arkansas, which serves as the state Primary Care Association for member CHCs in Arkansas, will be establishing a hotline to ensure that Arkansans are offered guidance on their options in seeking a test for the Coronavirus. We stand ready to assist the Administration in any way possible and are more than willing to discuss additional avenues we can fight this pandemic together. For more information on Community Health Centers, please visit: and ____________________________________________________________________________Community Health Centers of Arkansas, Inc. 119 South Izard Street, Little Rock, AR 72201 501-374-8225 This email was sent by to sblomeley@chc-ar.orgNot interested? Unsubscribe | Update profileCHCA | 119 S. Izard Street Little Rock, AR 72201

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