Governor Bobby Jindal and Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced today that a network of community primary care health clinics that has served nearly 300,000 metropolitan New Orleans residents since Hurricane Katrina will remain operational thanks to a partnership between federal, state and local government.
Low-income and uninsured residents will continue to have access to this network of clinics regardless of their ability to pay under a waiver negotiated by the Louisiana Department of Health and announced today by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Governor Jindal said, "These clinics have set a standard not only for our state, but for the country, in how we can provide primary, preventive and behavioral health care to citizens in their communities without forcing them into emergency rooms for non-emergency care. They continue to play a vital role as we continue to rebuild health-care capacity in the New Orleans area."
"Since they opened in 2007, our clinics have provided accessible, affordable primary care to 292,000 residents, approximately one-third of the metro area population," Mayor Landrieu said. "Keeping these clinics open allows us to improve health outcomes for the people of New Orleans. Today is a new day, and we now have the state and federal funding in place to sustain this critical regional resource."
The network of clinics was created after Hurricane Katrina devastated the region's health care infrastructure. Fourteen of the 25 clinic organizations, representing 40 clinic locations, are recognized as Patient Centered Medical Homes by the National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA), the largest concentration of such clinics in the United States.
"Keeping people out of costly, unnecessary emergency rooms with appropriate levels of primary care should be the goal of every community in the state. This concept of preventive and coordinated care for every Louisiana resident is driving all of our major efforts now," LDH Secretary Greenstein said. "These clinics are the perfect model for that future. We are glad we were able to find a workable solution for funding them and are committing to helping them build the administrative capacity they will need to sustain and compete in the emerging health care environment. "
The clinicswere originally funded for three years by a $100 million Primary Care and Access Stabilization Grant from HHS. The money from that grant was set to run out at the end of September. Earlier this month, Governor Jindal and Mayor Landrieu announced that the state has committed $30 million over three years from administrative funds in the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program as the state's match, and that plan was approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
"This community health network is the result of innovative work by the people of our area who pulled themselves up from Katrina and built something remarkable for the nation to follow," said Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Chair of 504HealthNet, a post-Katrina consortium of community health providers.
"New Orleans has historically bleak health statistics, and it's no secret that Hurricane Katrina decimated our health care infrastructure and created shortages in critical medical fields," closed Mayor Landrieu. "But out of this catastrophe has come the opportunity to create new models for providing affordable and accessible health care. As we work to build a bio-medical corridor in Mid City and a state-of-the-art hospital in New Orleans East, we are pleased that our work with our local, state, and federal partners has ensured that these primary care clinics are funded and preserved. This network is a national model and is just one of the ways post-Katrina New Orleans is serving as a true laboratory of reform."