New Orleans Success Story: Safety-Net Clinics Making Health Care More Efficient and Affordable

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<p>A new Commonwealth Fund report finds that a post–Hurricane Katrina primary care pilot program in New Orleans could serve as a national model for providing health services to vulnerable populations.</p>
<p>Based on findings from a survey of patients at 27 New Orleans health clinics, <a href="/publications/fund-reports/2010/jan/coming-out-crisis-patient-experiences-primary-care-new-orleans">Coming Out of Crisis: Patient Experiences in Primary Care in New Orleans, Four Years Post-Katrina</a> shows that, despite being disproportionately low-income and uninsured, clinic patients had fewer problems affording care and fewer instances of medical debt and inefficient care than most U.S. adults. In fact, only 27 percent of those surveyed went without needed health care because of the cost, compared with 41 percent of adults across the country. </p>
<p>The new model developed in New Orleans relies primarily on a loosely affiliated network of independent, local clinics funded by federal and local government and includes financial incentives for providers to improve care. </p>
<p>"It's exciting to see the impact that a real focus on primary care can have on the health of this vulnerable population," said Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis. "I hope that the lessons learned in New Orleans will be considered as we seek ways to provide high-quality, affordable health care for more Americans." </p>
<p>The Commonwealth Fund survey was conducted 18 months after a federal grant was awarded to the state of Louisiana to support a network of independent neighborhood primary care centers. The survey was designed to assess the impact of the project on patients' access to care and experiences and to provide lessons for national and state leaders on the value of strengthening primary care for vulnerable patients. </p>