Wednesday, October 31, 2007

MCCG to Suspend Issuing New Clinic Cards

As she approached the window in our front office, "Ann" said, "Can you give this to Mr. Morton, and ask him can he do anything?" She looked frail and scared. "Mr. Morton" is my husband, and he represents disabled people-people who cannot work, do not yet have Social Security income or the accompanying health benefits. Like many of his clients, Ann has few resources and relies on the Anderson Clinic of the Medical Center for medical care. There wasn't much Mr. Morton could do about the piece of paper Ann handed him. The Anderson Clinic, the Family Health Center and the Neighborhood Healthcare Center will suspend issuing new clinic cards this Friday.

According to the notice, these clinics provide primary care to 15,000 uninsured and under insured residents of Middle Georgia-approximately 40,000 clinic visits per year. The cost of providing this care has grown by 37% over the last two years-more than 1.3 million in new costs. Despite this, they have experienced significant reduction in funding from the state and federal government. Most recently, Bibb County reduced their funding by 2 million dollars.

So, Ann, who does not have a current clinic card, will have to get one before Friday, or she and others like her will simply not be getting primary care, and instead, they will be showing up at the emergency room for the most expensive and least effective health care available-and you and I, the taxpayers, will be footing the bill. What sense does that make? I'd rather pay a little to help provide preventative care than foot the big bill generated by people not having access to it. It's like not painting your house and then having to replace the wood siding. Dumb.

Now, according to this, the new Federally Qualified Health Clinic will open in Macon on November 1. I'm not sure that date still holds, but this clinic is a great idea, and thank God for those who made it happen. Is it actually opening tomorrow? Will it fill the gap for people like Ann? I'll be asking those questions.