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ACA: Basics

12 Days of “Gifts” from the Affordable Care Act – Gift Seven: Helping Families in Rural Areas and Strengthening Community Health Centers

In the spirit of this holiday season, the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health invites you to share in a series of blog posts, each containing a special “gift” from health care reform. Some have already been implemented and some are gifts still to come; but all are very important improvements to our healthcare system.

Gift Seven: Helping Rural Families and Community Health Centers

If you live in a rural area, you might identify with barriers nearly 50 million individuals face when accessing care. Women and families in rural Wisconsin face many challenges by having fewer options for providers and greater distances to travel for care. The first step in overcoming these barriers will be to increase the access to primary care providers – which we will discuss in further detail in tomorrows “Gift Eight” blog.

This “gift”- which became effective in 2010 – also increases the compensation that rural providers receive. Since 68% of medically underserved communities in the United States are in rural areas, these communities face challenges in attracting and retaining medical professionals. By increasing payments to rural providers, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) helps rural providers to continue to serve their communities – a win, win for both the provider and the community.

The second part of this gift comes in the form of enabling Community Health Centers to expand their services. Community Health Centers serve as one of the main providers for rural communities. Over the next 5 years, the health care law will provide funds to create more centers and expand services – including preventative and primary care as well as dental and behavioral care, and more. Increasing the centers capacity to provide services will also increase jobs – which is great news during these tough economic times. Since 2009, almost 19,000 jobs have been created due to the expansion and creation of new health centers.

Wisconsin was recently a recipient of some of the funding to increase an important type of health center – a school-based health center. In fact, we were happy to announce this funding in a recent post – read more about that, here.

Our noted “gift eight” – providing more access to primary care providers for families in rural communities and increasing their capacity to serve in community health centers – provides a sense of relief for women and families who are prone to these barriers and is another great gift brought to us by health care reform!

Check in tomorrow for our post on “Gift Eight” – “Accountable Care Organizations” and other health system encouragements such as incentives for more primary care doctors.

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