Sunday, June 21, 2009

Help for Health Clinics

Nurse-Managed Health Clinics (NMHCs) need more funding to provide wellness services and to strengthen the healthcare safety net. The goal is to expand access to chronic disease management services for geriatric and medically underserved populations.

NMHCs reinforce the medical home concept by providing a critical first level of care for populations living in rural areas with limited access to physicians and other primary care providers. NMHC patients participating in wellness services are connected to a medical home through established referral networks.

Legislation called the “Nurse-Managed Health Clinic Investment Act of 2009 (H.R. 2754), was recently introduced by Representatives Lois Capps from California and Lee Terry from Nebraska to help NMHCs improve access to quality healthcare and reduce health disparities. Representative Capps is a nurse and Vice-Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee.

The legislation would help fund NMHCs so it would be possible to do a better job of meeting the needs of vulnerable populations in underserved communities. Basically, NMHCs offer primary care and behavioral health and wellness services and are located in easily accessible facilities such as public housing developments, senior living arrangements, schools, and community centers

The funds would be used to manage the program and for buildings and equipment. Approximately $50,000,000 would be provided for FY 2010 and funding would be provided as needed for FY 2011 through 2014.

A companion bill (S 1104) to fund NMHCs was introduced by Senator Daniel K. Inouye in the Senate. In addition, the Senator announced that the Department of Commerce in their Economic Development Administration has provided a grant for $1.2 million to go to Chaminade University in Honolulu. The funding will be used to establish a nursing simulation center complete with a nursing training suite, laboratories, and a state-of-the-art human simulator.