On Thursday, Oct. 27, the San José Clinic welcomed guests to the sixth annual Fall Speaker Series. All proceeds from the annual event contribute to the operating budget for the non-profit clinic, which has been treating uninsured patients in Harris County and beyond for nearly a century.
This year, the series examined the economic, clinical and social impact of community health by way of the San José Clinic model. Through collaboration and community partnerships, the clinic has been able to offer a home for patients that would otherwise have very limited access to medical care. Patients receive primary care, dental care, optometry services, laboratory testing, pharmaceutical services and more through community partnerships at little or no cost.
Namita Mohta, M.D., Clinical Editor of the New England Journal of Medicine; Anne Dunkelberg, Associate Director and Health and Wellness Program Director at the Center for Public Policy Priorities; and Thomas W. Feeley, M.D., Head of the Institute for Cancer Care Innovation at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center were invited to discuss the clinic model in a discussion led by moderator Seth J. Chandler, Law Foundation professor of Law at the University of Houston Law Center.
“I was able to tour the San José Clinic yesterday and I was so impressed because it really is an innovation lab,” Mohta said. “They are creative and try new things, but they also stop doing things that don’t work. If all hospitals would do that, a lot of waste would be eliminated. Because of bureaucracy, that will likely not happen.”
Dunkelberg said more than 800,000 Texans fall into what is known as the health insurance coverage gap—the gap that has developed between the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid coverage since Medicaid has not been expanded in Texas. Because of this, some families and individuals who are under the poverty line pay more for health insurance than those above the poverty line.
“I come from a generation of physicians where charity care was what you did, that was part of what you were expected to do,” Feeley said. “We all provided care and we knew that we wouldn’t be compensated for it and no one was trying to track people down to bill them. I think health care has really forgotten what we all went into health care for.”
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