Not walls, but partnership holds the medical home together. The medical home model is an integrated approach to provide families with access to quality health care in the primary health care setting in a cost effective manner. Community Health Centers, the medical home for many in our two states, provide patient-centered and coordinated health care and have a tremendous impact on preventing sickness, managing chronic illness, and reducing the need for avoidable, costlier care such as emergency room visits and hospitalizations.
Bi-State members include Community Health Centers, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC), FQHC Look-Alikes (LAL), Rural Health Clinics (RHC), free clinics, and supporting organizations.
A Federally Qualified Health Center is a special designation signifying the health center meets certain criteria and receives federal benefits. The criteria include having a non-profit status, providing comprehensive primary care and preventive services, a consumer board of at least 51 percent, and being located in a medically underserved area. FQHCs receive federal grant funding, and are eligible for federal malpractice coverage for their providers to help them provide health care services to anyone, regardless of ability to pay.
Designation as a Look-Alike health center can be a step in the process of becoming a federally-funded FQHC. While LALs do not receive federal grant funding nor federal malpractice coverage, they are required to provide the same high-level comprehensive services to their patients, regardless of ability to pay, as well as maintain a consumer board of at least 51 percent.
Vermont’s Coalition of Clinics for the Uninsured (VCCU) is a group of nine free primary health care clinics and one dental clinic. Staffed primarily by volunteer clinicians, the VCCU clinics are dedicated to providing health care to the uninsured and underinsured. VCCU members’ paid staff work to coordinate services, provide counselling and enrollment information about public benefits and free pharmaceutical programs, and work to find other health care resources for Vermont’s uninsured. The clinics are supported by local fund raising, patient donations, private foundations, and the State of Vermont.
The Rural Health Clinic (RHC) program seeks to improve access to primary care in underserved rural areas. RHCs can be freestanding or part of a larger health system and can be either for-profit or not-for-profit entities. RHCs are required to use a team approach of physicians and mid-level practitioners to provide services. The clinic must be staffed at least 50 percent of the time with a mid-level practitioner. RHCs must provide out-patient primary care services and basic laboratory services. RHCs may also provide other health care services, such as mental health or vision services.