UC Davis

Funds to boost clinic outreach, smooth path for uninsured

By From page A3 | July 14, 2013

Davis Community Clinic will receive a $144,261 grant as part of an effort to enroll uninsured residents in new health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Winters Healthcare ($69,211) and West Sacramento’s Elicia Health Centers ($60,001) are also among the 1,159 clinics nationwide to receive a total of $150 million in grants, the Department of Health and Human Services announced earlier this month.

Robin Affrime, CEO of CommuniCare, which operates clinics in Davis, Woodland and West Sacramento, as well as a part-time dental clinic in Esparto, called it “pretty exciting” news.

“Essentially what this does is improves access to care for people who were uninsured and now will have coverage. It’s really needed,” Affrime said.

The funding comes at an ideal time, with Medi-Cal expanding coverage for 1.4 million more Californians and Covered California, the state’s insurance exchange, set to come online in January.

CommunicCare plans to hire the equivalent of 3.8 full-time employees, in addition to four people already on staff who assist people with applications and field questions. They’ll also be able to provide more community outreach to uninformed residents.

“That’s a big expansion for us. That’s wonderful,” Affrime said.

Earlier this year, CommuniCare broke ground on a $9 million, 21,000-square-foot clinic at 215 West Beamer St. in Woodland. The project received $5 million in federal grant funding under Affordable Care Act. Due open in January, it should allow the clinic to increase the number of patients it serves in Woodland by an estimated 25 percent.

About 25,000 Yolo County residents are uninsured. Of those, CommuniCare estimates 14,000 will be eligible for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, 6,000 to 6,500 of whom will qualify under the expanded Medi-Cal program.

Last year, CommuniCare served about 22,000 Yolo County residents at its clinics. Of almost 95,000 patient visits, 25,292 came at the Davis clinic, at 2051 Jones Road.

Affrime said CommuniCare can only guess how many more patients it will add under the new and expanded programs, Medi-Cal in particular.

“We’re thinking another 2,500, 3,000 maybe,” she said.

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Creek, trumpeted the grants in a news release.

“Our community health centers are an important resource for neighbors in need of affordable and accessible care,” said Garamendi, the former state insurance commissioner who, as a state legislator, authored the Rural Health Services Act of 1976, which expanded community clinics in rural areas.

For more information about healthcare changes, see http://healthcare.gov or, in Spanish, http://CuidadoDeSalud.gov. A 24-hour-a-day consumer call center is available at 800-318-2596.

More information about the state’s insurance exchange is also available at http://www.coveredca.com. CommuniCare’s website is http://www.communicarehc.org.

Cory Golden

Cory Golden

The Enterprise's higher-education and congressional reporter. http://about.me/cory_golden
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