Melinda K. Abrams, Michelle M. Doty, Jamie Ryan, Dominique Hall, Pamela Riley, M.D.
M. K. Abrams, M. M. Doty, J. Ryan, D. Hall, and P. Riley, Ready or Not? How Community Health Centers View Their Preparedness to Care for Newly Insured Patients, The Commonwealth Fund, May 2014.
By expanding access to affordable insurance coverage for millions of Americans, the Affordable Care Act will likely increase demand for the services provided by federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), an important source of care in low-income communities. A Commonwealth Fund survey asked health center leaders in 2013 about current and anticipated workforce challenges, as well as efforts under way to prepare for the increase in patients. The majority of FQHCs reported shortages of primary care doctors (56%), especially bilingual physicians (60%). Health centers are engaged in activities to meet the needs of new patients, with 53 percent pursuing integration of behavioral health and 31 percent hiring additional clinical staff. To help them provide quality care to more patients, FQHCs will require assistance to recruit additional personnel, particularly bilingual staff and mental health professionals, and to expand access to care through telehealth and other strategies.