HealthPAC Funding Serves More Than Just the Uninsured
The Health Program of Alameda County, also known as HealthPAC, is a county program that provides affordable health care to uninsured people living in Alameda County. In addition to funding healthcare services and emergency transportation for uninsured patients, HealthPAC also supports quality and system improvement efforts across the board as well as collaboration between our member health centers.
Periodically we’ll be highlighting how HealthPAC funding has been used by our member health centers. This month, we’ll be looking at the ways in which our member health center Tibrucio Vasquez Health Center utilizes HealthPAC funding for their patients and community members alike, both uninsured and insured.
Contributed by Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center
HealthPAC has been a lifeline source of funding for Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center (TVHC) and our fellow Community Health Centers, allowing us to increase wrap-around services to our patients and community members alike.
It has also provided stable financial investment in Community Health Centers to keep us agile and ready to respond to the emerging needs of our communities, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
With help from HealthPAC funding, we were able to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates to the population we serve which includes the South Hayward (area code 94544) and the Unincorporated Ashland Cherryland areas (area code 94541), some of the hardest hit zip codes in the state.
These communities had disproportionately higher positivity rates for COVID then most places in the country. This was at a time that the State of California reported declining rates of COVID-19, our hard-hit zip codes 94541 and 94544, continued to experience high rates of infection and a hesitancy to get vaccinated.
Through our work with our community health workers, also known as Promotores, TVHC was able to provide boots on the ground outreach, culturally and linguistically appropriate education about vaccines, contact tracing, and COVID vaccinations for the community with help from HealthPAC funding.
Outside of helping fund our response to COVID-19, HealthPAC helps fill gaps in access to care.
A high percentage of HealthPAC patients have complex health care needs and often suffer from chronic health care conditions including Diabetes and Hypertension, which puts them at high risk for eye conditions and foot problems. For these patients, access to specialty care including Optometry and Podiatry is critical. Currently, approximately 60% of our Optometry visits are HealthPAC patients.
Demand for dental services is also high across our population covered by HealthPAC. Many of our dental patients have a high risk of cavities, untreated decay, and periodontal disease. They also suffer from other comorbidities and often have complex treatment plans that require multiple visits to complete.
TVHC and other safety net clinics are the only access points for these patients, especially for preventative and restorative dental services. If these services are not offered by community health centers, the demand for care will become a huge burden on urgent care centers and hospitals, driving up costs for the entire system.
Also, as incomes begin to rise to meet rising inflation, there will be a large gap of people left out of coverage because they will be simultaneously earning too much to qualify for Medi-Cal but will not be making nearly enough to pay for out-of-pocket health insurance and expenses. Creating gaps in access to care leading to exacerbated healthcare disparities among our already vulnerable patients.
But most importantly, this will affect the overall health and wellness of our community, and undo a lot of the progress made by the county to combat health disparities and access to care that is desperately needed by a large portion of its population. HealthPAC funding is a necessity for community health centers, this funding is intrinsically linked to removing barriers in access to care, reducing healthcare disparities, increasing overall health and wellbeing, thus reducing the strain on already strained larger healthcare systems. Through education, outreach, and healthcare services, funded in part through HealthPAC, TVHC is able to continue our mission to create a more direct path to health equity for all.
Learn more about TVHC HERE.