Baltimore – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) visited the Baltimore Medical System’s new Highlandtown Healthy Living Center Monday to tour the facility and discuss how implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will double the capacity and use of Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) in Maryland and nationwide. As millions more Americans gain access to quality health coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act, federally qualified health centers will provide essential primary and additional services in our communities.
“The Affordable Care Act is already providing stable and secure coverage for Maryland families and slowing the growth of health care costs to provide Americans with better value, better options, and better health. We should be working together to build on the progress we’ve made through the law,” said Senator Cardin. “Community health centers are the backbone to providing quality health care for almost 300,000 Marylanders today. The ACA’s direct investment in health centers and in the primary care workforce, payment protections for health centers, and other key policy changes, are providing a necessary support to community health centers as they grow to serve millions of new patients in thousands of new communities nationwide.
“Highlandtown and federally qualified health centers like it are leading the way in developing model systems that overcome geographic, cultural, linguistic, and other barriers through a team based approach to care, including physicians, nurses, dental providers, social workers, and many others. In particular, they emphasize coordinated primary and preventive services that promote reductions in health disparities for low?income individuals, racial and ethnic minorities, rural communities and other underserved populations. From a primary care perspective, Baltimore Medical System has become the premier provider to the rapidly growing Latino community in Baltimore. I applaud their commitment to addressing the unmet health needs of Spanish-speaking immigrants, including childhood immunizations, basic health education about well child care, early entry into prenatal care, access to oral health services for children, and well child care.”
“The importance of the ACA as a game changer for the communities we assist and the uninsured and underinsured patients we serve should not be minimized. It is a driver of change that only access to quality health care can bring to the quality of life, learning and livelihood, where too often poverty and its associated health disparities has defined the opportunities and lowered the bar on expectations for many individuals,” said Jay Wolvovsky, President and CEO, Baltimore Medical System.
The Affordable Care Act been crucial for America’s community health centers. The law provides $11 billion in funding over five years to build new health care centers and expand existing ones, effectively doubling their capacity to more than 40 million patients by 2015. By that date, it is estimated that community health care centers will provide affordable health care to two-thirds of low-income Americans.
Earlier this year, Senator Cardin joined Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to announce new funds to help more uninsured Marylanders enroll in affordable health insurance coverage made available by the Affordable Care Act. In Maryland an estimated $1.7 million being made available to support 16 federally qualified community health centers (FQHCs) and expand their ability to hire staff and enroll people in affordable health plans.
Baltimore Medical System (BMS) is Maryland’s largest Federally Qualified Health Center serving more uninsured patients than any other community health center in the State. BMS serves over 46,000 patients annually providing both primary care and support services through six community health centers and eight school-based health sites. These services increase a patients access to care and include same day appointments, sliding fee scale, health benefit advisors, home visiting and medical interpretation. The Highlandtown Healthy Living Center is Baltimore Medical System’s largest community health center, serving over 16,000 patients and more than 57,600 visits in 2012.