FQHC-the Republican Answer to Obama Care

FQHC stands for Federally Qualified Health Center.  These are private clinics which provide free or low cost medical services in underserved communities.  It is not insurance.  It is direct funding to clinics that provide actual medical care to indigents and working poor and, really, whoever wants to use them.  Most charge low or no fees to the poor and higher fees to those who can afford to pay something.  They receive federal grants and assistance as well as raise community funds.  They are a true marriage of private and federal funding and are under the control of local boards, 50% +1 of whose members must be patients.  The program was started under George H. W. Bush and has been expanded under every administration since.  Compared to Obamacare, the cost of these clinics is small around $3 Billion dollars a year.  While there is much to criticize about the program, one of the RIGHT things about the program is that it delivers medical SERVICES not medical INSURANCE.  They are probably a good answer to the claim that we need to have a safety net.

I am a huge advocate of Health Savings Accounts.  But there are those people in every society, including ours, who can’t won’t don’t spend their money wisely and who may run out.  When I was a welfare worker 30 years ago, you could put those people on food stamps and direct rent payments to assure that the money given to them was actually spent on feeding and housing them.  Direct provision of medical care for those who can’t wont don’t plan is an extension of that idea.

We should focus on this program because it is a program that is in place and serves literally millions of uninsured patients.  Changing it and expanding it is a much more cost effective way to serve those who can’t afford to pay for medical care than is attacking anyone’s insurance.