On April 22, 2008, Governor M. Jodi Rell reported that a CMS grant for nearly $800,000 will be used to promote community-based health centers. Although more than 217,000 state residents used community health centers last year, patients tend to go to hospital emergency rooms for routine medical needs which then clog the urgent care system.
The CMS grant will fund the state Department of Social Services for the next two years to connect the state’s network of 13 federally qualified health centers and 10 hospitals. The Community Health Center Association of Connecticut, the membership association for federally qualified health centers, will lead the project under contract with the Department of Social Services.
The system will connect the centers and the hospitals via a computerized appointment system for non-emergency Medicaid beneficiaries. The system will help to search and schedule appointments for Medicaid enrollees, and thus encouraging people to obtain routine medical care at community-based health centers.
The web-based application was created by Global Health Direct, Inc. and enables patients to be scheduled for appointments 365 days a year 24/7. Now each referred patient will leave the emergency department with a written confirmation of their primary care appointment. The confirmations are printed in the patient’s language of choice and contain the day and time of the appointment along with the name, address, and telephone number of the clinic. Patients are also given information on the bus lines that operate near the center.
The Governor’s mid-term budget recommendation for the next fiscal year also includes $100,000 for the Department of Social Services to conduct outreach to Medicaid and provide Healthcare to Uninsured Kids and Youth (HUSKY) clients so that they can use appropriate primary care providers, rather than turn to hospital emergency departments for primary medical care.
On April 14, 2008, the Governor released a report submitted by the state’s Federally Qualified Health Care Centers that provide services statewide to more than 80 locations. The report outlines efforts to expand community health center hours, increase services for non-emergency transportation, and perform more cancer screening, tobacco cessation programs, primary care case management, and prenatal care.