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accountable care organizations, community health centers, health reform, Medicaid and Medicare, primary care medical homes



  1. Kulesher, Robert R. PhD


The impact of recently passed health reform legislation may cause substantial changes in community health center (CHC) operations. The new legislation provides federal funding for center expansion, increased Medicaid enrollment, enhanced Medicare payments, training to increase primary care providers, and incentives to develop CHCs as accountable care organizations. Health reform could place CHCs in a vulnerable financial situation. Newly insured patients may seek care at private providers, whereas CHCs are left caring only for the uninsured. Thus, CHCs are unable to benefit from enhanced insurance payments needed to offset care given to the uninsured. Conversely, if CHCs participate in developing comprehensive care networks for low-income populations by strengthening referral networks, developing primary medical care homes and accountable care organizations, and investing in infrastructure, then health center medical care will be a desired option for the newly insured, and a robust safety-net system may result.