Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was implemented 18 months ago, she’s noticed a significant difference in the acuity of the patients being referred. Patients are healthier and are starting to get the treatment and prescriptions they need.
A view from our care coordinators
Molly James, Project Access Northwest care coordinator, joined the organization in 2010 before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was implemented. Molly has been working patient intake, logging and triaging the referrals that arrive daily.
Over the past 18 months, she’s noticed a significant difference in the acuity of the patients being referred. Patients are healthier and are starting to get the treatment and prescriptions they need.
Project Access Northwest care coordinators still work on coordinating multiple specialty appointments and lab tests, but as Molly says, “We feel like we’re working further upstream for these patients—treating chronic conditions before the complications become irreversible.”
“There’s no question that the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion have made a difference, especially for patients with chronic conditions like diabetes and arthritis,” she explains. “In 2010, we would see referrals for patients whose diabetes had been out of control for years.
They couldn’t afford the medication they needed, they had no access to ophthalmology or podiatry, and they were getting referrals for extreme treatment like getting toes amputated.”
Patients living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are also benefiting. “There aren’t a lot of rheumatologists in our community, and access was challenging,” Molly explains. “The medications for RA are expensive and patients often couldn’t afford what they needed.”
Molly and other care coordinators mention that these patients have lived with pain for years and it became debilitating.
“They would be using a wheelchair or walker because the pain was so bad; their mobility was limited,” she says.
Nearly two years after ACA implementation, Molly is seeing a different kind of referral come through. Today patients referred usually have a primary care provider or care coordinator who is overseeing their care.
“These patients have a primary care home for regular check-ups, and they have the medications they need,” she explains.
“These were the patients who would often end up in the emergency room,” says Molly. “Now they have a primary care provider and the preventive medicine piece is working really well. I really believe it’s making our community healthier in every way!”