QUALITY CARE: Lawrence T. Geary, a patient at Thundermist Community Health Center, speaks to medical assistant Jill Antunes in the lobby of the newly renovated Quick Care Center in West Warwick.
PBN PHOTO/NATALJA KENT
By Patrick Anderson PBN Staff Writer
East Bay Community Action Program CEO Dennis Roy expects the number of patients his nonprofit health care organization treats to double shortly after Medicaid expands under the national health care law in 2014.
With more Rhode Island residents eligible for subsidized health insurance, the number seeking care at clinics like the ones East Bay runs in Newport and East Providence should rise.
“The act dramatically expands coverage and when more people have insurance we expect there will be pent-up demand for health services,” Roy said. “We see 2,500 people and expect that patient base in Newport to double within a few years.”
So East Bay, like the other nine community health centers in Rhode Island, is working to build its capacity and make care more efficient in preparation for the coming demand.
Fortunately for community health centers, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act includes federal money to grow their operations at the same time it grows their role in providing care.
East Bay received a $3 million federal grant that is paying for 90 percent of the cost of constructing a new 11,000-square-feet health center in Newport. The new building is 75 percent complete and slated to open in December.
In Cranston, Comprehensive Community Action Program received a $1.1 million capital grant for work on its medical building.
While measures such as the individual insurance mandate and Medicaid expansion have generated the bulk of the controversy attached to the Affordable Care Act, the law also includes approximately $97 million in total federal grants and other direct spending in Rhode Island alone.
In many states, officials opposed to the law have fought the new spending, but Rhode Island leaders have eagerly pursued it.
The majority of Rhode Island’s direct Affordable Care Act spending, $64.7 million, is going to set up the health-insurance exchanges intended to provide a transparent and efficient marketplace for insurance policies.