Sneak Peek from the December Issue: The Effects of Expanding Primary Care Access for the Uninsured

Later this month, Academic Medicine will post the published ahead-of-print articles from the December 2013 issue. To tide you over until then, here’s a preview of an article by Alan Dow and colleagues:

The Effects of Expanding Primary Care Access for the Uninsured: Implications for the Health Care Workforce Under Health Reform

Alan W. Dow, MD, MSHA, Arline Bohannon, MD, Sheryl Garland, MHA, Paul E. Mazmanian, PhD, and Sheldon M. Retchin, MD, MSPH


The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act seeks to improve health equity in the United States by expanding Medicaid coverage for adults who are uninsured and/or socioeconomically disadvantaged; however, when millions more become eligible for Medicaid in 2014, the health care workforce and care delivery systems will be inadequate to meet the care needs of the U.S. population. To provide high-quality care efficiently to the expanded population of insured individuals, the health care workforce and care delivery structures will need to be tailored to meet the needs of specific groups within the population. To help create a foundation for understanding the use patterns of the newly insured and to recommend possible approaches to care delivery and workforce development, the authors describe the 13-year-old experience of the Virginia Coordinated Care program (VCC). The VCC, developed by Virginia Commonwealth University Health System in Richmond, Virginia, is a health-system sponsored care coordination program that provides primary and specialty care services to patients who are indigent. The authors have categorized VCC patients from fiscal year 2011 by medical complexity. Then, on the basis of the resulting utilization data for each category over the next fiscal year, the authors describe the medical needs and health behaviors of the four different patient groups. Finally, the authors discuss possible approaches for providing primary, preventive, and specialty care to improve the health of the population while controlling costs and how adoption of the approaches might be shaped by care delivery systems and educational institutions.

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