Making TN healthcare headway is goal of Day On the Hill

Published 8:51 am Tuesday, March 5, 2024

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Tennessee healthcare advocates and leaders are headed to the State Capitol on Wednesday to voice their concerns over issues that affect patients’ access to care.

The Tennessee Primary Care Association and its member health centers want lawmakers to address funding for these clinics, and their ability to use federal programs, like “340-B”, which allows drug companies to give discounts to health centers on medications for low-income patients.

Association Chief Executive Officer Libby Thurman said Community Health Centers serve more than 423,000 patients across Tennessee, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay.

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“All community health centers provide primary medical care services. Often that is inclusive of labs, wraparound services such as care coordination. As needed by their community – and as they have the funds and capacity – they also add services like behavioral healthcare, substance abuse treatment services, onsite pharmacy services,” she explained.

An estimated 7.7% of Tennesseeans are uninsured. Thurman pointed out that Community Health Centers offer care not only to that population, but also to people with commercial insurance and Medicare.

Thurman is focused on narrowing the gap in health disparities at Community Health Centers across the state. She added health outcomes overall are often worse in the Southeastern United States compared to other regions of the country.

“We are really engaged on helping health centers track those metrics, and helping them implement programs and services that can improve those conditions in their patients,” she continued. “So, everything we do is focused on, again, access and then making sure people are getting not only healthcare, but that their actual health is improving.”

She noted Community Health Centers are in need of adequate funding to deliver these services, and it’s been a struggle to plan ahead, since federal funding from Congress is currently up for reauthorization.