HAGERSTOWN, Md. — U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Committee on Finance Health Care Subcommittee, today toured Family Healthcare of Hagerstown, a private, non-profit community health center, before exchanging ideas with staff and leadership about what the federal government can do to help ensure that more patients can receive the quality care they need.
“Today, I heard loud and clear that the Affordable Care Act is working, but the federal government still has more to do to ensure that families in Hagerstown can promptly access care when they need it,” said Senator Cardin. “Speaking with the people on the front lines of community health care is always helpful. I will take back to Washington their advice on what the federal government is doing right, as well as how it can improve.”
Family Healthcare of Hagerstown is Hagerstown’s Federally Qualified Health Center; it provides care for up to 7,000 patients in the region every year. The center serves as a “medical home” that allows patients of all ages to receive primary care, mental health services, dental care, case management, lab and pharmacy services all in one place.
“Federally Qualified Health Centers provide millions of Americans with the preventive, primary care and mental health services necessary to live a full and productive life,” Senator Cardin added. “I fought to ensure that access to these facilities was an integral part of the Affordable Care Act because I know that community-based health care is cost-efficient and effective.”
The Senate recently passed legislation authored by Senator Cardin to extend the duration of a federal demonstration program that allows individuals with severe mental illnesses to receive the help they need instead of becoming stuck in the revolving door of emergency room visits, relapses, jail, homelessness, and death. The Improving Access to Emergency Psychiatric Care Act of 2015 (S.599) extends the current three-year Medicaid Emergency Psychiatric Demonstration, which provides timely, cost-effective and life-saving care to individuals who are experiencing an emergency psychiatric crisis. Nearly two-thirds of the 6500-7000 patients at Family Healthcare of Hagerstown are covered by Medicaid, higher than the state and federal averages for FQHCs.