A new study finds that just two in five Los Angeles community health clinics are ready for Obamacare, it was reported on May 22.
The finding came out of a study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research that examined approximately 40 clinics in the Los Angeles area to determine how prepared they were for an expected increase in new patients because of the Affordable Care Act, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Under Obamacare, hundreds of thousands of people signed up for health insurance in Los Angeles County, which led the state in sign-ups through Covered California, with more than 400,000 enrolling. Hundreds of thousands more signed up for Medi-Cal, the state’s health plan for low-income residents.
Clinics are now expected to serve newly insured patients and continue to care for those who still don’t have health insurance. It’s estimated that 1 million people in Los Angeles County will remain uninsured, according to The Times.
“More people than ever before now depend on community health centers for essential healthcare,” Nadereh Pourat, the UCLA professor of health services who led the study, said in remarks reported by The Times.
The researchers, The Times reported, scored the clinics in four categories – the implementation of new technology, like electronic health records; increasing their managed-care participation; improving the quality of their services; and moving toward a “medical home” model of care.
Based on these measures, they found that 39 percent of the clinics were ready for Obamacare and 62 percent were in some stage of readiness, but many – especially smaller clinics – lacked the resources to prepare for the expected influx of patients, The Times reported. This is particularly important because L.A. County officials say they’re going to assign about 100,000 of the remaining uninsured to community health clinics under a managed-care-type system in the fall.
The clinics “need support to expand beyond their traditional roles and responsibilities if they are going to effectively serve new populations,” Pourat said, according to The Times.