Mendocino Community Health Clinic Receives Grant to Focus on Patient-Centered Care

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March 2012

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently named Mendocino Community Health Clinic's (MCHC) Little Lake Health Center one of the sites for the Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) Advanced Primary Care Practice Demonstration. Along with a little prestige and grant funding, the recognition informs MCHC that they are on the right path and should continue on their journey to become a Patient-Centered Health Home (PCHH).

CMS describes the project as follows, “The FQHC Advanced Primary Care Practice demonstration will show how the patient-centered medical home model can improve quality of care, promote better health, and lower costs. This demonstration project, operated by CMS in partnership with the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA), will test the effectiveness of doctors and other health professionals working in teams to coordinate and improve care for up to 195,000 Medicare patients. Participating FQHCs are expected to achieve Level 3 patient-centered medical home recognition, help patients manage chronic conditions, as well as actively coordinate care for patients. To help participating FQHCs make these investments in patient care and infrastructure, they will be paid a monthly care management fee for each eligible Medicare beneficiary receiving primary care services. In return, FQHCs agree to adopt care coordination practices that are recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). CMS and HRSA will provide technical assistance to help FQHCs achieve these goals.”

Financially, this translates to about $35,000 additional dollars per year during the three-year project.  Practically, it provides MCHC with technical assistance from CMS and HRSA so they can become accredited by NCQA as a PCHH.  The PCHH changes the service delivery model from 15-minute doctor-patient visits to more complete care with individualized care options supported by a team approach that includes the patient as a member of the team. MCHC recognizes that most people are more successful when they believe in what they’re doing? If patients are included in the decision-making process about their health care, they are more likely to be successful.

In addition to direct patient care from doctors, midlevels and nurses, the PCHH approach includes case management and educational services to engage patients in managing their care. It’s good for patients and good for all of us as more successful care management should lower overall health care costs.  With baby boomers approaching their Medicare years, this is more important than ever. 

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