When Phillip Bergquist takes his turn at the podium on Thursday at the Healthy Safety Net 2013: A Blues Symposium in Lansing, he will be addressing the people he believes are on the front lines of Affordable Care Act education. People who work in the clinics that make up the health safety net in Michigan are uniquely qualified to help people navigate their new choices. “One of the advantages of the health centers and clinics that are providing enrollment and outreach is that they are proactively going out to the people they already serve that are uninsured but also to their community members and finding them and offering that help,” says Bergquist, Director of Health Center Operations for the Michigan Primary Care Association. But Bergquist says coverage expansion is only a part of the ACA. There are several other changes happening in the healthcare landscape, including value-based reimbursements for doctors and hospitals, the meaningful use of electronic health records, and patient-centered medical homes. Part of the reason Michigan’s safety net of health clinics works well is their ability to find team members with specializations that fit the needs of the clinics, he said. “It’s impossible for one person to be on top of all the things that are changing or all the things that are impacted,” Bergquist notes. Events like the Healthy Safety Net Symposium and groups like the MPCA help clinics share information, something that is valuable in a rapidly changing heath care landscape. The ACA is a big driver of change in that landscape and people are afraid of navigating that landscape on their own. Bergquist notes that surveys have shown that approximately 75 percent of respondents want help to make sure they are getting the best possible coverage for their family and learn what kind of financial help might be available. “For the patients that are uninsured right now, the most important thing they can know is that new options are becoming available October 1 and beyond. All of the health centers, safety net providers and insurance navigators that are out there are there to help you figure out what those options are,” Bergquist says.
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