From the CEO's Desk
Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Section: Spotlight Articles, July 2016

Kathy Wood-Dobbins, CEOThe Tennessee Primary Care Association (TPCA) appreciates the time and effort that the 3-Star Healthy Project Task Force has invested in exploring a way to extend health care access to more Tennesseans. As the Task Force has held hearings, Community Health Center leaders and clinicians have provided vital testimony. House Speaker Beth Harwell appointed the Task Force to develop a plan that could help the working poor and would also garner legislative support.


Most recently, the focus of the Task Force has been on a strategy to serve uninsured veterans and individuals with a behavioral health diagnosis. The 3-Star Healthy initiative will meet the comprehensive health needs of these two targeted populations. Clinicians and other leaders of Tennessee health centers have testified before the Task Force about the services they provide and the need for providing a path to health insurance.

TPCA’s members are the state’s Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) that provide comprehensive, high-quality primary health care services to Tennesseans who live in low-income urban and rural communities. These FQHCs ensure that patients receive preventative services, manage chronic diseases, and prevent acute conditions from worsening. They help divert patients from costly emergency rooms and help to reduce avoidable hospitalizations. The health centers help to form a primary health care safety net that is vital for many uninsured Tennesseans.

While FQHCs can assist patients in securing primary health care services, patients also need access to health care services provided beyond the walls of the health centers. Approximately 37 percent of Tennessee health centers' nearly 385,000 patients are uninsured (142,435 patients). FQHCs can provide patients with integral primary care services and make efforts to connect patients with other care providers in the area. When seeking additional health care services, patients encounter barriers to accessing specialty care, hospital care, and treatments for advanced disease states. These health care services are difficult to access when a patient lacks insurance.

TPCA firmly believes that providing a path to health insurance is the best way to ensure that Tennesseans can access the full range of health care services that they need.

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