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Top News Stories

Utah gets first chance to weigh in on Obamacare replacement

Meaghan Lyver 0 171

SALT LAKE CITY — With the start of the new year, Utah is getting its first chance to weigh in on what should replace the Affordable Care Act.

Republicans in Congress sent two letters to governors and state insurance commissioners across the country this month asking for suggestions on how to craft a replacement for President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.

The letters were received by Gov. Gary Herbert and Utah Department of Insurance Commissioner Todd Kaiser.

The governor has convened a working group consisting of members of his senior staff team, the Utah Department of Health and Utah Department of Insurance to gather input and recommendations, according to spokeswoman Kirsten Rappleye.

The Senate Finance committee, chaired by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, asked Republican governors for input on reforming Medicaid and proposed a small roundtable in January to "begin the important dialogue."

"We are acutely aware that in dismantling the ACA we have a responsibility for ensuring that Medicaid continues to provide quality of care for our nation's most vulnerable citizens," the letter states.

Hatch is among those leading the effort to undo the health care law, which he once called a "dead drag" on the economy.

House Republicans, in a separate letter, are seeking broad recommendations on health care reform. They invited governors and insurance commissioners "of every state" to come to Washington early next year to discuss their ideas.

At the Utah Legislature's health reform task force meeting Monday, Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, said state lawmakers should also have been contacted.

"Frankly, I'm disappointed that the legislative branch in Washington did not ask the legislative branches of the states for their input," Dunnigan said.

Cathy Dupont, associate general counsel for the task force, said many state lawmakers may find themselves in similar positions as they did six years ago when the Affordable Care Act was first passed.

At the time, states found themselves "in a bit of a vacuum about what it would look like for the states," she said. "These letters suggest that we may be in that situation again with the new administration."

Tanji Northrup, assistant insurance commissioner at the Utah Insurance Department, said the department is concerned that repealing the individual mandate without making other changes will unbalance the risk pool.

Overall, she said the department would advocate for state flexibility in managing their health insurance markets.  Michael Leavitt, an adviser for President-elect Donald Trump's transition team and former secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, believes Repubicans will seek bipartisan cooperation.

The former Utah governor was speaking on Conversations on Health Care, a radio show.

“One of the primary mistakes made in the passage of the Affordable Care Act is that it was done entirely on a partisan basis, and they seem committed to not make that mistake again," Leavitt said.

But so far, only Republicans in Congress have asked states for their input in repealing and replacing Obamacare.

Utah Department of Health deputy director Nate Checketts told state legislators that the letters are a "starting place."

"While this is one of our first opportunities to weigh in as a state on what's going on, I think there will be multiple opportunities and multiple discussions," he said.

 

Former HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt: 5 healthcare policy projections under Trump

Meaghan Lyver 0 220

Written by Emily Rappleye

 Former HHS secretary and former governor of Utah Michael Leavitt offered his view on the future of the ACA during a radio show called "Conversations on Health Care."

Mr. Leavitt is founder and chairman of Leavitt Partners, a healthcare intelligence firm based in Salt Lake City. He is an expert in health policy and currently advises President-elect Donald Trump's healthcare transition team

Here are five key takeaways from Mr. Leavitt's remarks.

1. The ACA likely faces repeal. "The one certainty in the next several months about healthcare is that there will be a bill that will pass Congress that will be titled repeal and replace," Mr. Leavitt said. How this will be defined is still unclear, but Republicans face a mandate from voters to change the law, according to Mr. Leavitt. However, he added, "Pretending that the [ACA] never happened is not an option," indicating a replacement will be conscious of the progress that has been made.

2. A few portions of the law are certain to disappear. In particular, Mr. Leavitt pointed to the individual mandate as an item on the chopping block. He noted that lawmakers will have to carefully consider a replacement for this due to the millions of Americans who have gained coverage under the law. 

3. The replacement must be bipartisan. "One of the commitments that Republicans have made is that they don't intend to do this in a way that does not involve a bipartisan support," Mr. Leavitt said. The current political climate, he said, is one "driven by the fundamental belief that the other party won't do the right thing," and those in power often also overreach. He blamed bipartisanship for lack of success with the ACA.

"We've got this appetite now because [Republicans] haven't had power to do everything exactly the way we want it done. I believe the Republican Party has a very impressive and historic opportunity to put in place a governing structure that will last for a very long time if they have the discipline not to overreach," Mr. Leavitt said.

4. Medicaid will change to give states more flexibility. Because states are divided in adopting Medicaid expansion, the program is in a "peculiar situation," according to Mr. Leavitt. Due to this discord, he says the program is likely to undergo change in the next administration, "mostly giving states more flexibility." This is consistent to Mr. Trump's plans to give states block-grants to fund the program. "We may actually see less funding in certain of the optional populations… but I don't think there's any lack of commitment to taking good care and helping those who are in hardship," he said.

5. Value-based care is here to stay. Mr. Leavitt called the transition to value-based care one of the most important changes in healthcare in the last 60 years, and felt certain Mr. Trump will be supportive of continuing the transition. "The change is not being driven simply by political ideology; it's being driven by an economic imperative that if we want to continue to have great healthcare, we have to change the way it's paid for," he said. "I believe the Trump administration will not only agree with that but they may in fact hasten it.

Listen to the full interview here.

 

CHC Mourns the Passing of Rep. Betty Boukus

Aldon Hynes 0 410

We at Community Health Center send heartfelt condolences to the family of Rep. Betty Boukus. Betty’s passion for her community and constituents was unmatched and she will be sorely missed. She was a special friend of the Health Center, always supportive of our mission of helping the medically underserved in Plainville and New Britain, and across Connecticut. Thank you, Betty, for a lifetime of service.

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News Releases

Community Health Center’s Dr. Veena Recommends Simple Steps to Avoid Flu

Meaghan Lyver 0 277

 

MIDDLETOWN, Conn., February 8, 2017: Connecticut is one of the states hit hard by the flu this year, with hundreds suffering from the virus; but it’s not too late to avoid becoming a statistic.

“Get a flu shot. It’s your best protection against the flu, which is expected to peak in March,” says Veena Channamsetty, MD, chief medical officer of Community Health Center, Inc.

Other simple steps to avoid getting the flu:

•             Wash your hands often

•             Avoid close contact with people who are sick

•             If you have flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, muscle aches), limit contact with others

•             Disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched by multiple people

•             Boost your immune system by eating healthy foods and drinking fluids

“The flu spreads easily this time of year, especially in schools and office buildings,” says Dr. Veena. “Taking a few precautionary steps to avoid contracting the virus can make a huge difference.”

 

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About Community Health Center, Inc.
Since 1972, Community Health Center, Inc. has been one of the leading healthcare providers in the state of Connecticut, building a world-class primary healthcare system committed to caring for uninsured and underserved populations. CHC is focused on improving health outcomes for its more than 145,000 patients as well as building healthy communities. Recognized as both a Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home by the National Committee for Quality Assurance and a Primary Care Medical Home by The Joint Commission, CHC delivers service in more than 200 locations statewide, offering primary care in medical, dental and behavioral health services. For more information, visit www.chc1.com.


Free Dental Care Provided though CHC Mission of Mercy

Meaghan Lyver 0 410

MIDDLETOWN, Conn., January 23: Dental care providers from Community Health Center, Inc. provided free dental care to people in need and without insurance at its Middletown site Saturday as part of the Mission of Mercy program.

“We provided 37 patients with an array of services from exams, X-rays and cleanings to fillings, dentures and extractions,” said Sheela Tummala, chief dental officer for CHC, who participated in and organized the event. “With the support and service of our volunteers, we were able to help many of the patients in need within our community.”

CHC provides dental care to its patients regardless of their ability to pay, using a sliding fee scale for those without Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance.  It periodically holds Mission of Mercy dental clinics to provide services to those who are not patients.

“The nurses and doctors are good; and because sometimes I have a job and sometimes I don’t, it can be difficult for me and my family to pay for my teeth. This helps,” said Noemi Campos, who received dental treatment at the event. 

Thirteen staff members, including dental providers, dental assistants, hygienists, and patient service associates volunteered their time and services for the event while staff from CHC’s Healthcare for the Homeless helped schedule appointments and provide transportation.

Tummala said CHC will hold five more Missions of Mercy at different sites around Connecticut this year.

 

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About Community Health Center, Inc.
Since 1972, Community Health Center, Inc. has been one of the leading healthcare providers in the state of Connecticut, building a world-class primary healthcare system committed to caring for uninsured and underserved populations. CHC is focused on improving health outcomes for its more than 145,000 patients as well as building healthy communities. Recognized as both a Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home by the National Committee for Quality Assurance and a Primary Care Medical Home by The Joint Commission, CHC delivers service in more than 200 locations statewide, offering primary care in medical, dental and behavioral health 

CHC and CeCN Expand Electronic Consultations to California’s El Dorado Community Health Center

Meaghan Lyver 0 248

MIDDLETOWN, Conn., January 17, 2017: The Community Health Center, Inc. (CHC) and Community eConsult Network (CeCN) extended rapid specialty consultation service to El Dorado Community Health Center, a primary care organization serving 9,000 patients in California’s El Dorado County. 

The service gives primary care providers at the health center access to prompt electronic consultations for their patients in six specialties: cardiology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, nephrology, neurology, and rheumatology. In most cases, the consultations are completed within two business days.

“CeCN gives primary care providers the ability to communicate promptly back and forth with specialists,” says Daren Anderson, MD, a member of the CeCN Board of Directors. “Our research has shown that specialty consultations can be safely and efficiently managed through secure electronic messaging, with improved convenience for patients and without compromising the quality of care,” he adds.

CeCN, a wholly owned subsidiary of CHC, was incorporated in 2015 to improve access to specialty care, especially in areas where it is limited, such as rural and underserved communities. Restricted access to specialty consultations contributes to healthcare disparities, higher rates of disability, and complications in chronic diseases, according to Anderson.

El Dorado Community Health Center is the third healthcare organization in California to join CeCN. Ampla Health and Chapa-De Indian Health joined last year.

CeCN provides specialty consultation to primary care providers in healthcare organizations in seven states.

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About Community Health Center, Inc.
Since 1972, Community Health Center, Inc. has been one of the leading healthcare providers in the state of Connecticut, building a world-class primary healthcare system committed to caring for uninsured and underserved populations. CHC is focused on improving health outcomes for its more than 145,000 patients as well as building healthy communities. Recognized as both a Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home by the National Committee for Quality Assurance and a Primary Care Medical Home by The Joint Commission, CHC delivers service in more than 200 locations statewide, offering primary care in medical, dental and behavioral health services. For more information, visit www.chc1.com.

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