Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) toured the Conway ARCare Clinic Tuesday afternoon, and met with ARCare administrators to make sure community care clinics and hospitals work together to provide healthcare to those who need it.
ARCare Clinic is a private, non-profit corporation developed to provide affordable care to meet the primary medical and dental care needs of the residents of rural Arkansas acting as a "safety net" to ensure no one who needs healthcare is denied access.
Boozman said clinics like ARCare fill a very important niche in the system.
ARCare CFO TJ Whitehead said the corporation had 132,000 total patient touches last year.
Hospitals cannot survive without clinics, said ARCare General Counsel Winston Collier, emergency rooms would be overrun, but some hospitals aren’t as willing to admit that.
Boozman met with Baptist Health Medical Center in Arkadelphia, an ARCare affiliate, earlier in the day to make sure hospitals and clinics continue to work together and continue to provide feedback to the Senate.
TJ said the most critical issue the clinic is facing is staffing their footprint, making sure each clinic has enough physicians and mid-level medical professionals to meet the needs of its patients.
"I know it’s difficult throughout Arkansas and throughout rural America to attract providers," Boozman said.
Boozman compares the Affordable Care Act to his daughter trying to cook original family recipes created by her recently deceased grandmother.
"There are no recipes," he said. "This thing has just kind of evolved."
Although, Boozman said, identifying people who need to be put in the healthcare system can be seen as a silver lining.
The community of Horseshoe Bend went without a clinic for several months when its clinic closed Dec. 31, but ARCare administration made the decision that the community couldn’t go without a clinic.
"Our board and CEO has instilled in us that when there is uncertainty, we just have to do what’s right," Whitehead said.
During Tuesday’s meeting, the group learned that the bill that would be used to fund the private option failed the state house by five votes.
Expecting the bill to fail in the Senate, Collier said the news added to the already changing healthcare landscape.
"At the end of the day you just want to take care of the patients," he said.
(Staff writer Michelle Corbet can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1215. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)