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Governor’s Column By Gov. Matt Blunt
Improving Missourians Access to Health Care
As I listen to Missouri families, I hear them repeatedly site access to affordable health care as a chief concern. Missourians are compassionate people, and we are not just worried about our own families. We are concerned for all Missourians. I share Missourians’ concerns, and that is why one of my priorities this legislative session was expanding access to health care for Missourians.
In our new state budget we have secured a historic $60 million for Missouri’s Federally Qualified Health Centers and Community Health Centers. These centers provide health care services regardless if patients have health insurance. They will use this funding to expand access to the services they deliver, to purchase new medical equipment and for much needed renovation and construction projects.
Some examples of centers that benefit include the Jordan Valley Community Health Center in Springfield for the replacement of its current site in Southwest Missouri and for new equipment to better assist the patients they serve. For Missourians in Northwest Missouri, Northwest Health Services for new equipment and expand local services with the construction of new facility in Mound City. In the Kansas City area the Samuel Rodgers Health Center for renovations, expansion and equipment, and the Family Health Center in Columbia for equipment and renovation of their Columbia site and for expansion of the Salisbury site.
As we continue our efforts to create an enhanced health care delivery system for low-income Missourians one of the most important components is a health care home. Community health centers have been pioneers in the health care home concept and integrated care. Health centers across Missouri have led the way and shown that providing comprehensive preventative and primary health care to patients at one central point leads to improved health outcomes and more cost-effective, quality health care. In 2006, Missouri’s community health centers served 307,000 Missourians through more than 1.1 million visits.
A health care home delivers care in such a way that both the doctor and the patient have as much information as possible before they make decisions. This gives doctors and health professionals important tools to make the most informed medical decision with their patient.
This year I also secured $5 million to improve how we use technology in health care. It will provide funding to introduce a secure electronic health records system that will make it even easier for care givers to help their patients.
Missouri’s Federally Qualified Health Centers and Community Health Centers are providing care that is accessible, family and patient centered and compassionate. Most importantly, these centers are making health care available to uninsured Missourians and making quality care accessible to those who need it most.