As Med­i­caid ex­pands, Free Clinic will serve Med­i­caid re­cip­i­ents

Rappahannock News - - SCHOOLS -

As of Jan­uary 1, an ad­di­tional 400,000 Vir­gini­ans gained ac­cess to qual­ity, low-cost health in­sur­ance through the state's ex­panded Med­i­caid pro­gram.

The en­dur­ing mis­sion of the Fauquier Free Clinic (FFC) is to pro­vide el­i­gi­ble res­i­dents of Fauquier and Rap­pa­han­nock coun­ties with ac­cess to com­pre­hen­sive med­i­cal, den­tal and men­tal health care. This year, the clinic’s busi­ness model un­der­went ex­ten­sive changes to ac­com­mo­date new and ex­ist­ing pa­tients when Med­i­caid ex­panded its ser­vices for low-in­come adults through­out Vir­ginia.

“In the past, our med­i­cal pa­tients were not el­i­gi­ble for ser­vices if they had any type of med­i­cal in­sur­ance,” said FFC board sec­re­tary John McMa­hon. “Now ap­prox­i­mately 60 per­cent are Med­i­caid el­i­gi­ble.”

In Fauquier County alone, 1,700 to 1,800 peo­ple have be­come el­i­gi­ble for Med­i­caid in­sur­ance ben­e­fits. In Rap­pa­han­nock County, 300 to 400 peo­ple are now el­i­gi­ble. Through­out the state of Vir­ginia, el­i­gi­bil­ity has been granted to around 400,000 peo­ple.

“Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion was a great op­por­tu­nity for the Com­mon­wealth and Fauquier County to pro­vide health in­sur­ance cov­er­age for those most in need,” said FFC board mem­ber Gre­gory Bengston. “Chang­ing our busi­ness model to en­sure that clinic pa­tients who now were Med­i­caid-el­i­gi­ble had con­tin­ued ac­cess to health care ser­vices was a huge ac­com­plish­ment.”

Board pres­i­dent Jan Selbo shares that after learn­ing that many med­i­cal, den­tal and men­tal health pri­mary care providers would be un­able to ab­sorb new Med­i­caid pa­tients into their prac­tices, the FFC board unan­i­mously agreed to un­dergo the process of be­com­ing cre­den­tialed Med­i­caid providers.

This was no small de­ci­sion; it meant that many long-held pro­cesses and pro­ce­dures, in­clud­ing billing pro­ce­dures, pa­tient screen­ing and med­i­ca­tion ac­qui­si­tion, had to un­dergo sig­nif­i­cant changes. Thanks to a part­ner­ship with Med­i­caid ex­perts made pos­si­ble by gen­er­ous donor sup­port, new pro­cesses were de­vel­oped, learned and suc­cess­fully im­ple­mented in or­der to adapt to the new re­al­ity and meet pa­tients’ health needs.

“The most im­por­tant re­sult — and the ma­jor con­sid­er­a­tion for all clinic’s board, staff and vol­un­teers who par­tic­i­pated in the de­ci­sion to be­gin to ac­cept Med­i­caid — is that FFC can con­tinue to pro­vide in­te­grated health care to its pa­tients,” said Selbo. “The will­ing­ness of the staff and vol­un­teers to un­der­take this com­plex process has been heart­en­ing.”

Ac­cord­ing to the FFC’s 2018 an­nual re­port, more than 1,700 pa­tients re­ceived ser­vices for a to­tal of 7,726 ap­point­ments, in­clud­ing about 250 pe­di­atric den­tal screen­ings. Be­cause of the de­ci­sion to re­spond to the Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion, the clinic can now serve an even larger pop­u­la­tion of pa­tients.

“Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion is life-chang­ing to many res­i­dents,” said McMa­hon. “Hav­ing ac­cess to health care, in­clud­ing pre­ven­tive care, will dra­mat­i­cally im­prove their qual­ity of life. More im­por­tantly, they no longer have to fear the pos­si­bil­ity of in­cur­ring dev­as­tat­ing med­i­cal care debt.”

Pa­tients of the clinic are be­ing en­cour­aged to ap­ply for Med­i­caid with the as­sis­tance of FFC staff and vol­un­teers.

The FFC, part of the Fauquier and Rap­pa­han­nock com­mu­ni­ties since 1993, pro­vides in­te­grated care for low-in­come pa­tients with a staff of cer­ti­fied physi­cians and many ded­i­cated vol­un­teers who do­nate their time and skills. Pre­ven­tive care and care for chronic con­di­tions helps con­trib­ute to bet­ter over­all com­mu­nity health and avoids ex­pen­sive emer­gency and hospi­tal care for th­ese pa­tients. The FFC re­ceives min­i­mal govern­ment sup­port; most fund­ing is pro­vided by gen­er­ous donors and foun­da­tions.

“The won­der­ful sup­port we re­ceive from our com­mu­nity will con­tinue to be es­sen­tial to our suc­cess,” said Selbo. “Ac­cept­ing Med­i­caid pa­tients will not pro­vide the fi­nan­cial and vol­un­teer sup­port needed to con­tinue to pro­vide health care, es­pe­cially for pa­tients who have lim­ited in­comes and do not qual­ify for Med­i­caid.”

COUR­TESY PHOTO

The staff of the Fauquier Free Clinic in War­ren­ton, which also serves Rap­pa­han­nock County.

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