Healthcare changes on Broadway echo national trends

The Kansas City Free Health Clinic recently changed its name to Kansas City CARE Clinic, a reaction to changes in health care anticipated under the Affordable Care Act. Health care providers from the Broadway Corridor discussed what they see on the horizon at a meeting of the Broadway Westport Council yesterday.

Healthcare services in Midtown, as well as the rest of the country, are changing rapidly, according to a panel of health care providers speaking to the Broadway Westport Council yesterday.

The changes are coming in reaction to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare), a federal statute President Obama signed into law in 2010.  Currently, the states are deciding whether to expand Medicaid coverage for low-income individuals.

While that debate goes on, local health care services are getting ready for the new environment they foresee.

Four providers spoke to the Broadway Westport Council yesterday about their current status and the changes they see coming. The speakers included: Kirk Isenhour, Marketing and Development Director of the Kansas City CARE Clinic (formerly the Kansas City Free Health Clinic); Brad Simons, COO of St. Luke’s Hospital; Lester Hardegree, Dean of Health Sciences for Penn Valley Community College and Executive Director of the Health Sciences Institute; and Gary Thompson, a doctor from the Midtown Family Medicine Clinic.

“The face of health care is changing and we are changing with it,” Isenhour told the Broadway business owners. He said the Free Health Clinic was started to serve the uninsured and underinsured. Since more people are expected to have access to care under the Affordable Care Act, the clinic has changed its name and is making other major changes.

Simmons outlined recent improvements at St. Luke’s, including the opening of a new heart institute and neuroscience institute. He said the hospital is at capacity, in part because of the number of patients from other places who ask to be transferred to St. Luke’s. St. Luke’s has set a goal of making a $100 million reduction in waste, something encouraged by the Affordable Care Act.

The Health Sciences Institute on Broadway, which trains nurses and other health care professionals through its “virtual hospital” and other programs, is also seeing the impact of the new federal law. Hardegree said eventually, the act will impact every individual in the United States and every student at Penn Valley.

Thompson, meanwhile, said he sees 3000 patients a year at his Broadway clinic, where “our focus is really on health and not on illness.” He said his clinic has joined a larger association looking for ways to improve the quality of care and therefore lower health care costs.

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