Even with the Medicaid expansion that is a signature component of Obamacare, for low income Americans, accessing health care services will have its challenges. But thanks to a public-private partnership inspired by Obamacare, accessibility to health care clinics may no longer be one of them.
According to the Wall Street Journal, a $100 million fund has been established to build community centers near affordable housing as demand for primary-care services are expected to rise. The law includes approximately $10 billion for the creation of new, federally qualified health centers and addresses a key component of driving health care spending down: keeping people consistently well.
As critics on both the left and the right have rightly pointed out, increasing insurance coverage does not guarantee that those newly covered consumers will be able to see a doctor when they need to. The fund and its backers hope to change those odds by building federally qualified health centers that administer to low income patients alongside new and existing affordable housing.
Currently about 8000 centers already exist, but with the country already facing a shortage of primary care facilities, adding millions of more people to the insurance rolls will tax an already broken system unless new facilities come on board to help meet the demand.
This fund is not some hippie philanthropic project. Not it he least. The new fund will be backed by Morgan Stanley, and if Morgan Stanley is in on it, then there’s every reason to think Wall Street sees potential growth from a reform it spent billions to try and defeat. They should. This is the common-sense, brick-and-mortar health industry reforms built into Obamacare that will have the additional bonus of being economically stimulative.
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, “[t]he fund will rely on $87 million in loans from Morgan Stanely in exchange for tax credits to build 500 new affordable housing units and eight new health centers serving 75,000 people.” All in all the projects backed by the funds are expected to create some 2,200 jobs in some of the nation’s hardest-hit communities.
In some ways, the idea of placing health centers in under-served areas is not new, said Jennifer Tolbert, director of state health reform at the The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington to the Wall Street Journal. “But the idea of bringing together private capital and support from foundations is good way to boost the numbers of health centers and increase access to health care,” Ms. Tolbert said. “Just providing insurance is not enough.”
This is a win-win for our country and shows what can happen when the public and private sectors cooperate. Our urban core desperately needs a new public works project and thanks in part to Obamacare, it’s finally getting one. And even if its limited, it’s a start.
Photo from debaird via flickr.