Missouri’s 29 community health centers and the 200 other sites they run have received about $3 million in federal funding for its quality of care. Missouri Primary Care Association CEO Joe Pierle tells Missourinet the performance-based funding follows what’s happening nationwide with healthcare.

Photo courtesy of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

“This is a recent development, but I would say that this is fully in line with what is happening with health care in general and overall where providers are being held accountable for their performance. They’re tracking any number of metrics related to patient outcomes,” Pierle says. “I think this is the Department of Health and Human Services’ way of aligning with Medicare policy, Medicaid policy and how commercial plans are now reimbursing providers.”

Pierle says Missouri receives about $100 million annually in federal funding, but this latest payment is unique because it’s tied to performance.

He says the shift is important, but he does have concerns about staff getting burned out.

“I see that (funding) as a public trust and we need to use that money wisely. When it comes to on the ground care, I would suggest that there’s enormous strain on the physician and nursing community because they are being held accountable to these metrics,” Pierle says. “For the most part they just want to provide care but now there’s a lot of administrative work related to providing care and that’s somewhat of a burden right now.”

How does the funding impact patients?

“The great thing about this funding is it focuses on that provider-patient relationship,” he says. “For this to really work and for us to collectively see improved health outcomes, we have to really focus our efforts on engaging patients and their day-to-day care.”

Community health services, which include medical, dental, behavioral health and pharmaceutical care, exist in more than 50 of Missouri’s 114 counties. In many rural areas, community-based programs are the only health provider.

The sites serve about 550,000 Missourians annually with many of the patients being low-income, uninsured and Medicaid or Medicare recipients. They aim to provide patients with preventative and primary care to keep them from going to more expensive forms of care, like emergency rooms.

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